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Perspective: An Essential Leadership Principle

Perspective: An Essential Leadership Principle

How big is your perspective? How deep, far and wide do you think? Expanding perspective is a fundamental leadership principle we need to practice. Like doing drills for your favourite sport.

Perspective is power! Learn to see far, deep and wide.
How we see ourselves, how we see others, how we see the bigger picture will make or break our leadership success.

Are you looking far, deep and wide enough?

Look beyond the 1-3 year strategic plan to the ripple effect: what happened generations ago tells us about what is happening now. How will what we do today affect generations in the future?

This kind of perspective gives us a sense of responsibility and dedication to our work, and we can be less transactional and more transformational.

When you consider a problem, dive deep: look at the patterns, the systems, and the values that create those problems.

When we see in layers, we can make systemic change that creates long-term positive effects.

Coach’s challenge: what could you do today that will have a positive ripple effect ten or more years from now?

Developing perspective needs a strong leadership mindset
If we are stuck in survival, then it’s hard to be anything but reactive. We need to break this cycle by thinking a couple of steps ahead, then eventually to greater and greater time horizons.

A few key beliefs to help with our leadership mindset in crisis and survival include:

We’ve got this.

We can figure it out together.

We may not know the answer, but we know we can keep searching for it.

These beliefs help lift our gaze from the immediate stress of now to what’s possible next.

Where does your leadership journey end? Well beyond what you probably think.
The practice of perspective is like exercise: we need to keep stretching our ability to get stronger.

One of the ways to do that is to extend our horizons.

One of my favourite thought experiments is to cast your mind back to your own family tree. Start with one generation, then two, then as many as you know by name. Then imagine going back seven generations, or roughly two hundred years ago, and imagine the world of your ancestors. What were their dreams? What were their challenges? Then go back further – to Egypt before the Romans. That’s 2000 years ago. Imagine your ancestors back then. What was their world like? Go back again – this time 100,000 years ago… something and someone did something, fast forward to now and here YOU are. Isn’t that amazing?

Now imagine the same thing, but forwards. What are you doing today that might cascade forward – one generation, two, seven – then 2000 years, then 100,000…

As leaders, what we say, what we do, who we are has a ripple effect. Choose how you see yourself, others, and the world in order to make those ripples have a positive impact.