- the case of shifting perspectives to align with vision for leadership advantage
A story is said about twin boys who were raised by an alcoholic father. One grew up to be an alcoholic and when asked what happened he said, I watched my father”. The other grew up and never drank in his life. When he was asked what happened he said, I watched my father. Two different perspectives.
The bible also gives an account of a group of people who were sent by Moses on account to spy the promise land and report about the state and nature of the land for possession thereafter. Their assignment was clearly defined within the broader scope of the vision to possess the land eventually.
Interestingly, two different reports were recorded, detailing on one hand how impossible it seemed to achieve the objective of capturing the land from its original inhabitants. Another group held a different view after they equally had the opportunity to site the land and make same a report to Moses.
The same task, the same land, the same inhabitants and probably the same logistics to carry out this same assignment but with different reports and views. What is the missing link here? The answer obviously lies in how different people with different sense view and perceive things differently. There is much talk about the advantages having different perspectives of issues play in shaping leadership vision and character.
As an individual or a leader, your perspective of issues will determine your destination and how effective you become. Entertaining room for shared culture of perspectives from the team equally defines and consolidates how effective and promising a leader could function and be successful.
The question however is, do you overthink and procrastinate, hold onto regrets about the past and see the negative side first as a leader? Why worry about what others think and not rather want to be more creative, future focused and productive instead? In this series, I will offer a powerful exploration of how our perspective influences our success as leaders.
Meanwhile, the series partly seeks to provide the tools and steps to analyze our mindset and strip away the beliefs that hold untrue and limiting our potential for leadership influence and advantage. It focuses on the truth about being authentic and aligning our goals with our strengths and how to take actions regardless of our current situation. Let’s talk vision and perspectives.
What is vision? Vision is the desired ideal image of something one has for future of something, some event or situation. Leadership vision is an essential means of focusing on or giving attention to what matters most to the team or organization. It permeates the workplace and manifests in actions, beliefs, values, and goals of the organization. For Theodore Roosevelt, it’s important for individuals and leaders to “keep their eyes on the stars and their feet on the ground, meaning remaining visionary. To be visionary is to aim high, set goals for oneself, have great ambitions and have high expectations for one’s life and future. However, do not forget to remain grounded and humble. Be realistic about life, while never letting go your dream and vision.
Besides, visionary leaders need to have nothing more than a clear insight and understaning of the future which must be communicated with clarity and passion in order to motivate and inspire people to take action. High among leadership expectation is to develop and share a vision which lives in the future. It is about movement towards a goal, betterment, growth and success and that requires a redefinition of focus for values and principles, defining the organization.
Leaders need to stay current with their business objectives whiles it looks out toward a future that lies further ahead and this again may require a leadership that inspires its people to succeed and are offered support through an environment of shared responsibility and perspectives. What inspires the team to succeed every day comes from different inspirational sources and what one person values as success can be very different from the next person’s values but the leader aligns these values for its advantage.
Leadership vision is the ability to concentrate on the most important aspects of self or business such as what he wants to achieve and what type of leader he aspires to be. An organization’s vision can incorporate lessons from the past, present realities and its future aspirations.
Essence of Vision:
It is interesting to note that, what makes vision important is that, in the absence of it the people, team or organizations die. People, groups and organizations do not enjoy dying, therefore, everything is done to ensure they do not die which is a sign that no one is interested in dying. Any visionless environment is a destructive environment. There can be opportunities in that place but without vision, the people will still perish. The reason is not far-fetched, everything around us survives on vision and leaders cannot survive without a vision either. Leaders need vision for survival.
A People of Vision:
Even in our individual marriage life for example, the marriage requires a vision for its survival, for without a vison the marriage (people) perishes. We can talk of the presence of God in a place but understand also that God says my people perish for lack of knowledge. This means that, the people can be born again, received God and still perish for not having knowledge. Many things can kill the people even in the presence of God. The survival of God’s people is not based on their relationship with Him but with knowledge. The erroneous idea is that, we always expect the leader to have vision that is the expectation. But the expectation rather should be to expect a man who has a vision to be the leader. Leadership does not qualify one for a vision but it is the vision instead that qualifies one for leadership. One leads because he or she sees.
It is a vision that qualifies one for a responsibility as well. Again, we do not give one a responsibility to qualify him for a vision or leadership. This is profoundly so because we do not choose a person before he is chosen to be visionary. You do not get a vision because you are appointed the leader of that organization. Becoming the leader of the organization does not give you access to vision very simple. It is vision that gives you access to the organization as a leader. Therefore, one must have vision to become the leader, for it is the vision that qualifies one for the position. It is like saying, let me make money and then I will know what to do with it. Have a vision before making money and that the vision will qualify you for the money.
A Place of Vision:
Vision does not speak about only the people but to the environment as well. A visionless environment is chaotic and without progress. Where there is the lack of vision the people struggle and perish. The” where” refers to anywhere being a team, group or an organization setting. Nonetheless, where there is a vision, leadership needs to build a culture of shared perspectives to keep the vision alive and active. An environment of leadership vision is characterized by great ideas, high expectations and enthusiasm, future focused with support structures, high emotional energy play and leadership edge at display.
Leadership under an environment of great vision duly make periodic honest assessment of the current situation facing the team and the organization. The ability of the leader to clearly identify what the team is doing well, what it is not doing well and how it is performing compared to the competition is highly a normal function to stay current and relevant as a leader in such an environment. Here, leadership use personal stories to illustrate why the team’s core values are important. The edge pertains to lessons leadership has learned through personal experience that are related to the team’s future picture and core values. Having said this, let’s deal with the significant impacts of shared perspectives on leadership.
What is Perspective and why it matters in Leadership?
Stephen Covey, the father of modern business once said, wisdom is our perspective on life, our understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other is of great essence in this contemporary business age. This however suggests that, leaders must know how to effectively communicate with their team that, they apply different ways to perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to communicate well with others.
The question is, are you walking well as a leader yet have lost the way out of that assignment or task? It is important for the leader to know where he must put his feet and still be mindful of keeping his head up. Leadership wants things done right but if all it does with the team is to operationally detail instructions as to how to keep the feet from not hitting stones, the head would always be down and nothing much would be achieved. For what happens when leaders do not look up is a sign that leadership could be on the right path but moving in the wrong direction. The great tendency could be missing altogether with the entire team because they are looking down too as the leader directs.
The Core Assumptions of perspectives:
On that score, it is relative desirous to consider the core assumptions of perspectives. There is only one answer or view. Any rational person can see that my view is right and yours is wrong. Your view is unreasonable, you just don’t get it. The issue is everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.
Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. Do you ever feel like your perspective view of issues are sidelined and never taken as important in any serious deliberations? If the answer is in the affirmative, then there is the need to adjust how we look at the situation.
Individuals ought to alter their perspective view of things by presenting a convincing picture to align with, consolidate or shape the broader vision. Changing our perspective can be enlightening. A fresh look at a situation can even open our eyes to see a person differently.
As the leader, your team’s job is to put their feet down safely every step of the way. Your job is to make sure you have the team moving in the right direction. As the leader, keeping your head up and maintaining your perspective puts you at an advantage point to effectively lead the team. To stay on the right path heading towards the right direction as a leader is to keep perspectives.
Fundamentally, the leader is supposed to lift up his eyes, look up ahead and to the sides to look for challenges in the competition, see what threats or opportunities might be emerging on the business front. To keep the leader well balanced and focus is to read the trail signs and markers by looking as well for changes in the environment and see whether there are other paths to follow, new methods or systems he could use to achieve the desired expectations.
More importantly, leaders who ask for help from team and from anyone who could contribute to the broader vision about the way to the future is not only consolidating leadership potentials but allowing for other perspectives to shape the course.
So you would see leadership talk to customers, teammates, and experts in the field and ask about whether they are served well, the right decisions made and the right course of actions being taken just to get the sense to shape things for the better.
It equally must be a guide for leaders to once a while stop to check their map or compass for direction. This means to review and update annual plans and ensure they are challenging but realistic and the impact assessment of actions and of progress made. Notably as a leader, one must pause for reflection from time to time to rethink perspective to be sure whether our chosen path still would get us the needed success and get us to the top as well.
Suffice to mention that, leadership needs to strip itself and encourage the team to pursue some thought patterns as well as to change certain perspective view of things if it wants to succeed. How it does that may emanate from constant training, coaching and mentorship.
The Guide to Leadership Perspectives:
Harper Lee remarked that, one will never really understand a person until he or she considers things from his point of view and climb into his skin and walk around it. Being successful in today’s highly technological and globally competitive world requires a person or the leader to develop and use a different set of skills than were needed before. One of these skills is design thinking.
Design thinking has been widely considered to be the central or distinguishing activity of engineering and it is generally considered as an analytic and creative process that engages a person in opportunities to experiment, create and prototype models, gather feedback and redesign. It involves visualization and creativity that a good design thinker should possess.
The creative design thinking pattern ensures there is review of team annual plan on regular basis. Review the team’s goals and ensure they are smart and the team’s progress is encouraging. It encourages talking with customers, finding out what works well or doesn’t with them and develop a survey to get feedback.
Design thinking use the approach of going out there identifying problems as well as confirming strengths and opportunities available for advantage. As such, leaders with design thinking skills talk with teammates and ask what can we do better? They get down on trenches and learn how things are really working on the frontlines.
They read reports, books, takes opinion of experts about what the team does and should be doing, learn from their experiences, take the perspective view of peer leaders and their shared experiences to get new ideas to steer the course.
Is the vision clear to all? Do the goals match the vision? Do the people understand their roles on the team or is there confusion? Are you continuously busy or are you developing a team of leaders you can trust to get the job done?
Are you hiking with your head down or are you able to look forward and up? Perspective is an instructive system for revealing the unique nature of our thoughts and unlocking the proven truth about using intentional thinking to leave the past behind, create mental habits that enhance a positive perspective, see opportunity in chaos, develop an active awareness of our thinking, free our mind from the criticism of others, overcome distraction and so on.
Understanding things from different perspectives helps us and especially leaders to better understand each other and the broader picture to build the cohesion for pursuing the common goal of the team or organization.
When the team put itself into one another’s shoes and really try to understand things from their perspectives, we shift the way we see the goal of the team and the objectives of the organization.
Altering our perspectives for leadership advantage:
If leadership would ever make progress and achieve greater results, individual members of the team must shape their perspectives to align for the leadership good. This can effectively be done when the individual remains or:
Entertain the improbable:
Maybe you don’t think something is possible. But what if your desire could become a possibility by just changing your perspective? For example, may be you have tried over and over again without getting the results that you want. But what if this time you shift your perspective to embrace the suggestions of others? That may probably advance the course of the team when you agree to disagree and allow the bigger picture to rule.
Be more accepting.
New people and situations are inevitable. Sometimes, the best way to change your perspective is to be open to new ideas brought by your new acquaintances. Why not see what happens if you are more open-minded and accepting? The question is how has your experience changed your perspectives of things with regards to even new contributions from that new member of the team? Do you welcome new initiatives which have high impact on results and not necessarily sticking to the status quo? Be more accepting!
A focus mentality is a product mind. Learning to stay focus on the agenda and the key imperatives provide the impetus for leadership energy for excellent executional results. However, individuals must learn how to develop a focus mindset to complement leadership efforts.
Adopt Design Thinking
This thinking pattern draws on logic, imagination, intuition and systemic reasoning to explore the possibilities of what could be and to create desire outcomes that may benefit the end user, the customer. A design mindset is not problem- focused, it’s solution-focused and action-oriented. It involves both analysis and imagination. Design thinking is linked to an improved future and seeks to build ideas up, unlike critical thinking, which breaks them down.
Therefore the understanding to shift perspectives in alignment of vision for leadership advantage underpins the shared contribution of perspectives through design thinking, creative innovations and passion. And remember, the knowledge that part of leadership problem is a shared contribution of a failed system of a culture of shared thoughts and perspectives emanating from a culture of silence and lack of creative innovations, passion and commitment is certainly astonishing and disappointing.
Discovery….Thinking solutions, shaping visions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The writer is the CEO and Strategic Partner of AQUABEV Investment and Discovery Consulting Group. He is an Executive Director and the Lead Coach in Leadership Development and best Business Management practices for Discovery Leadership Masterclass.
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