Recently a leader shared his epiphany about the importance of seeking multiple perspectives. When he stopped and took time to widen his perspective, something magical happened. He was able to anticipate various reactions to change, and better defend his decisions.
How we view an issue leads straight to how we solve it. When we get comfortable in our profession, we rely on our competency and experience. What we see may not be what is present. It may be a reflection of what we think we already know. When we are busy, we can be forced to see situations through the eyes of whoever brings it first to our attention. I won’t ever knock experience as a leadership advantage, or say that you want to shut down informers. But a danger is there. Successful experience and time pressure converge and you find yourself taking a path you know best. That’s not leadership – its autopilot.
I once heard an award-winning photographer explain that his best shots came when he hunkered down or turned around – when he changed perspective. Some of you may be familiar with Edward de Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats, which also describes multiple perspectives. Here’s a simple list to help you begin to shift your perspective. Relax and have fun. Use your imagination to sit in these roles. If you can’t – admit you need to talk it out with someone else.
- How would an optimist see this?
- How would a pessimist see this?
- How would someone who is empathetic and concerned for others see this?
- How would someone who is mostly concerned with logic and rational thinking see this?
- How would someone who is worried about what happens tomorrow see this?
- How would someone who is concerned with the situation in 2 years time see this?
- How would someone who has been around this issue since it started (way back) see this?
- How would someone who is brand-new and has no history see this?
- How would someone older than you see this?
- How would someone younger than you see this?
- How would your role model and hero see this?
- How would the person you disdain see this?
- How would the person who replaces you in 5 years see this?
- How would the person you replaced see this?
- How would someone who reads Fast Company see this?
- How would someone who watches YouTube see this?
- How would a loyal customer see this?
- How would an unhappy customer see this?
Using this method requires you to admit you don’t know it all. Try it out. Think of other perspectives that make sense to your industry or customer groups and add them to the list.