Change Your View: Leadership and the Art of Perspective

As we approach a General Election here in the UK, I am reminded that navigating the complexities of leadership often requires more than just a clear vision; it demands a comprehensive understanding of how different perspectives can profoundly influence decision-making. I’ve had to adapt to wearing glasses and contact lenses to correct my vision over the years, leaders too must learn to adjust their focus, embracing a multitude of viewpoints to guide their actions effectively.

Imagine leadership as a spectrum. On one end, you have the self-centred leader, whose vision is narrowly focused through the lens of personal gain and immediate outcomes. This approach, while sometimes effective in the short term, can lead to a myopic understanding of challenges and opportunities, like navigating a diverse and dynamic landscape with tunnel vision. Doug Baldwin encapsulates this pitfall eloquently: “The greatest tragedy for any human being is going through their entire lives believing that the only perspective that matters is their own.” Such leaders, driven by their one-directional view, often miss the richness of collective insight, leading to decisions that may not serve the broader good or sustain long-term success.

Contrastingly, at the other end of the spectrum, you find leaders committed to the highest good of those they lead. These leaders recognize the value of looking through multiple lenses, understanding that leadership is not just about directing but about listening, learning, and leveraging the diverse perspectives within their teams. Brené Brown reflects on this inclusive approach: “Only when diverse perspectives are included, respected, and valued can we start to get a full picture of the world: who we serve, what they need, and how to successfully meet people where they are.” This type of leader fosters an environment where every voice is heard, and every perspective is valued, creating a mosaic of insights that can inform more holistic and effective decision-making.

The Roadmap

The journey from being self-centred to becoming a leader who seeks the highest good involves several intentional steps:

  • Self-Awareness: Recognizing your biases and limitations is the first step towards broadening your perspective.
  • Creating Safety: Cultivating an environment where everyone feels safe to share their insights and opinions.
  • Active Listening: Truly hearing and considering the perspectives of others, even when they diverge from your own.
  • Asking Questions: Encouraging dialogue and deeper understanding by asking more and assuming less.
  • Valuing Diversity: Recognizing that a diversity of perspectives enriches decision-making processes and outcomes.

A shift in leadership style, from focusing solely on your own perspective to integrating a wide array of viewpoints, can be likened to my experience of needing different glasses for different purposes. Just as I need reading glasses for clarity up close and contact lenses for broader vision, you need to adapt your focus, drawing on the collective insights of your teams to navigate the challenges and opportunities you face.

John Maxwell offers a potent reminder of the importance of this adaptive approach: “The power of perspective is an intentional discipline. It takes time and commitment, but it creates an understanding between you and the people you lead that allows you to move forward, faster—and with increasing success.” The intentional effort to understand and integrate diverse perspectives is not just about enhancing personal leadership effectiveness; it’s about elevating your entire team or organisation to new heights of understanding, performance, and achievement.

As leaders, the choice of lens you use to view your world, your teams, and the challenges you face can dramatically affect your decision-making and, ultimately, your effectiveness. The commitment to expanding your perspectives is a commitment to better leadership, richer collaboration, and more meaningful success. What steps will you take today to embrace a broader view, ensuring that the decisions you make serve the highest good of those you lead?

Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

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