Successful Leadership Through Perspective

multi colored origami airplanes in rows

Five targets and six perspective expanding opportunities in mind.

The source of leadership perspective can be found everywhere yet most of the time we only see our own.

Leaders like all individuals have perspectives with a clearly identified point of view. This point of view need not be good, useful or on point but when one has a point of view it can feels easier to be confident about a choice or a decision.

Individual points of view are narrowed based on many factors including personal experience and characteristics. As a result of our nature and nurture mash-up we have learned to see the world from certain angles and, in doing so, often see what we are looking for and miss the opportunity for more.

Our perspective impacts how we gather, take in and assess information. While having a perspective is very important, as our perspective can help us stay grounded and consistent, it can also be limiting.

As a leader it is important to have a clear point of view that enables your business strategic perspective. If you approach a business decision or build a plan without a strategic perspective you can lack an anchor from which to hold your ground while building or changing course. Having a perspective is not only a fact, it is also a good starting point so do not knock it. But while perspective is a starting point it is not an ending point.

Putting Leadership Perspective In Context

Your perspective can and should include your own values, philosophy, beliefs, needs, goals, motivations and individual differences.

For example if your perspective on a situation is such that you want to gain a financial advantage that perspective could inform your actions differently compared to another person who has as a goal the desire to balance work with family.

These two need to be exclusive of course but if the perspective of financial advantage is unchecked it could negatively impact other aspects of your life. When your perspective is not constantly tested and evaluated you run the risk of narrowing your perspective so much that you lose perspective.

Great leaders often have a strong point of view but frequently their point of view has been informed by the points of view of many. This provides them with the leadership perspective to understand other need and wants. This does not mean supplanting ones own needs and wants it means rounding them out with the perspectives of others.

Understanding others motivations and needs is often vital to leadership business and success. In business it is often useful to consider the perspectives of these 5 targets:

1.  Customers or Clients
2.  Employee, Colleagues
3.  Other Organization Leaders
4.  Competitors and Your Broader Industry
5.  The Community including education, government and much more.

Within each of these point of view there will be many more nuanced perspectives; for example the perspective of a happy and satisfied customer will vary from the perspective of an unhappy and dissatisfied customer.

As you approach making plans and decisions keep these 6 perspective expanding opportunities in mind.

  1. Consciously identify different perspectives for consideration. This may require you to inventory the perspectives that already surround you. If they are monolithic (consider factors such as age, gender, culture) the chances are your perspectives will be closely aligned. While that may make for a calming work environment that can also lull you into a false sense of security. Actively seek to understand the perspectives from those who are unlike you.
  2. Bring trusted disconnected others into your perspective. Leaders often carry the burden of leadership decisions on their own. They see situations only from their perspective especially if their perspective had previously generated success. Finding an outside mentor or coach who does not have a vested interest in a situation can serve to provide another voice who will help you unlock opportunity to better identify and understand your own perspective and help you consider the perspectives of others.
  3. Seek disagreement as a way to challenge your perspective. Many leaders enjoy seeing heads nodding as they share their perspective. A leader who challenges his/her own thoughts and invites others to do the same opens him/herself up for criticism but also creates opportunities for his/her own brain to think differently in the process. When faced with negative information or disagreement our brains often improve their attention to detail and ability to see a wider picture. Some negativity is good as long as it does not last for too long.
  4. Walk a different path. To gain a new perspective change how you engage with the situation. Literally walk a different route around your workplace; sit in a different location; look for new angles; sit at a different desk, say hello to a different colleague. Just by changing your routine you can change your brain and your perspective.
  5. Ask different questions of yourself and others. Sometimes asking unexpected questions, asking questions to different people or asking questions differently provides different perspective. People caught off guard by an unexpected question may be more candid with their reaction, which can offer you an opportunity to take ideas in another direction.
  6. Identify role models and seek counsel from their perspective. These need not be role models you can access directly; they need not even be role models who are living. Identifying a leader you admire and then seek to consider and understand that person’s perspective. This can offer you the opportunity to expand or alter your own perspective.
  7. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness allows you time and opportunity to gain new perspective. Mindfulness involves grounding yourself in the moment by being aware of your external surroundings and internal thoughts. Breathing techniques that involve o slowly breath in and slowly exhale can help you gain some control of your emotions and help you to be focused on the moment. When you are practicing mindfulness you can work on shifting your perspective consciously and tapping into what your brain consciously and unconsciously can perceive.

Often it is important to step back and then step back in to obtain a new or different perspective. Leaders who challenge themselves to expand their perspectives can find ways to bring innovation, insights and opportunities into their business.

Related articles:

Many Leadership Styles, What’s Yours?

Ownership vs. Leadership: Leading for success?

Leadership- Building Employee Trust and Eliminating Stress


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