Developing Perspective: The Skill Behind Effective Leadership

When a photographer composes a portrait or prepares to take a photograph, she must also have a perspective on the subject that lies before her. Choosing the right lens, and carefully planning the layout of the picture takes a skill that knows different perspectives are involved, and there is many ways to create the right outcome and effect, as that photo is taken.

Leading is really no different. It requires a broad experience base that understands how to achieve an outcome or desired effect. The leader learns how to choose the right lens, and combine the right adjustments to create the best outcome.

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Knowing different perspectives is important why?
1. Expanding decisions beyond the concrete: Having depth. A leader that has depth has a greater range of understanding about the problem, but also a greater range of pattern recognition to attack the problem in the most intuitive way.

2. Different problems require a wider range of perspectives: Let’s face it, the world is complex sometimes. Like the great photographer than knows how different lighting and lens will affect the outcome of a composition, a deep thinking leader will often know how different attributes affect or will directly influence different outcomes.

3. Having more “tools” about a situation, means that more variables can be thought through, thus avoiding pitfalls and hazards along the way. Obviously this is why experience and skill count with leadership, although a perspective taker needs to also be open to new ideas by others who may not have as much skill.

Ways that we gain more perspective-
1. Learn to “think ahead”. It is a skill, and can be taught. Those that learn to think ahead, often can see many more perspectives than the concrete or reactionary thinker.

2. Develop humility. Go into the day knowing that your team will teach you something. Over time you will gain sensitivity to many other opinions and perspectives. Many of our greatest national leaders (e.g. Washington, Lincoln, King, or Reagan to name a few…) exercised a leadership style of learning to learn from others – in order to make the next decision.

3. Finally, learn to connect dots. Pattern recognition, even connection of disparate ideas sometimes can determine the next course. In his 2005 Stanford University speech (often discussed, quoted and paraphrased), Steve Jobs – arguably one of our greatest innovative thinkers in this century, discussed the concept of learning to connect patterns “or the dots” between different things, and to be able to look at many different perspectives on how things may be received. Developing a healthy openness to do the mental mining with patterns, may provide several perspectives that were not previously thought of by others.

Learn to think originally, develop different perspectives, and be open to others. These are effective skills that will help you develop your leadership skills and talents.

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