One of the truths about leadership, not often talked about, is that when we become leaders we must begin to look at and see the world differently – at least if we want to be successful and effective.
Following that idea, the obvious question is, what are the ways we need to look at the world differently, or what perspectives are required for us to become a more effective leader? Couple that with the start of a New Year and it seems logical to answer that question in light of what I see coming for 2014.
Here then, are five perspectives we need to develop to succeed as leaders at the highest level in the coming year.
The External Perspective
Too many leaders spend too Submarine Leadership much of their time looking too close to themselves. If your view is always about your team, your department, your organization, or even your industry, you need to expand your view. Viewing the world (and opportunities and threats) too narrowly is like looking at your world through a submarine periscope. What you see is clear, but it is seen without context.
Develop this perspective by reading more broadly and networking further from your comfort zone. If you want to expand this perspective you can’t be reading from the same sources next month that you were reading from last month.
The Big Picture Perspective
Similar to the external perspective is the big picture one. To see the big picture means to be able to put current and planned actions into a mental framework that makes sense. Here are three examples:
If we take these actions, what other impacts will there be?
If that external event happens, what should we do?
When we introduce that product, how will it impact sales of existing products?
The questions are endless, but you won’t even think to ask them if you aren’t leading from a big picture perspective.
Developing this perspective helps you avoid obstacles, take advantage of opportunities and tell the difference between them!
The Change Perspective
It is almost a cliché to say that our world is changing faster than ever. But it is. By most any measure, change comes at us faster than ever. To help our teams navigate in these changing waters we must see the perspective of change – constantly looking for opportunities and threats to see what we need to change, why we need to change, and what the right timing is.
Perhaps just as important is to be clear on what we don’t need to change, or what we need to keep constant for our team’s greatest success. As important as this is, thinking about change in absence of the two perspectives above will not allow us to successfully use this perspective for everyone’s benefit.
The Development Perspective
28 years ago (almost to the day) my new boss Bob Strawn told me his job was to prepare to be able to do this – to, in effect, work himself out of a job. That perspective is just as valuable in 2014 as it was in 1986. It has always been the leader’s role to grow the capacity of those they lead. Whatever your reason for seeing this perspective – whether to simply increase the value of the human assets of the organization, or try to help people succeed and find greater success for themselves, (or any other reason) the need for someone to develop others in an organization has always existed.
But now, more than ever, this perspective is required for you to succeed. With organizations continuing to flatten and more work and workers moving in a virtual direction, we must be developers of others if we want to even keep pace with the expectations and changes in our working worlds.
People need new skills to meet new expectations.
It is our job to support and help them develop to be even more successful.
The Other Perspective
You may have noticed how each of these perspectives seems to build on the previous ones – and they all lead to this last one, perhaps the most challenging and most important of all.
Leaders must think outside of themselves. As an individual contributor we can focus more on ourselves and our needs if we wish. But as a leader we must constantly think about other people, the needs of the business, the changes that are coming and more; rather than thinking of ourselves and our needs. Yes, we are human beings and self-interest will always be part of our thought process. And, the most successful leaders keep their self-interest in check long enough to look, see and act on the other perspectives required.
When you do that, you gain great rewards for yourself, often far greater with unexpected benefits.
If you will consciously work to develop these perspectives your organization and team will thrive – and you will find success beyond what you have previously achieved. Isn’t that worth looking at your world differently, and acting on what you see?
Here’s a Remarkable Principle to sum up this article:
The best leaders consciously change their perspective in order to change their results.
Join leaders from around the world as a member of the Remarkable Leadership Learning System. This system includes two complimentary months of that unique system as part of Kevin Eikenberry’s Most Remarkable Free Leadership Gift Ever today at http://MostRemarkableFreeLeadershipGiftEver.com.
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. You can learn more about him and a special offer on his newest book, Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a time, at