Perspective guides us. I looked up a couple of references on the word perspective. Basically, perspective is “the capacity to view things in their true relation or relative importance.” So, perspective is really our viewpoint or how we see things. Sometimes, things can become so familiar, we don’t really look at them with the same perspective. Tools like mission statements, vision statements or value sets become paragraphs and lists without meaning or passion after time slips away. They become the drive home, other things distract you from taking them in, or perhaps, you just begin taking them for granted as average scenery along the route.
Leaders must maintain proper perspective. Leaders take people to places they would not go on their own. Leaders understand and maintain perspective on the mission, vision and values of their organization because they have actually seen the future state of the company and now are guiding it to it’s destination. Think about it, if an organization could get to a better place all by itself, why need leaders at all?
Find the edges. Most savvy leaders understand many issues and problems will come up along the way. Leaders problem think. What they know does not keep them awake at night, but rather what they do not know. Finding the limitations of the organization in every area and in every direction is like finding the edges of a room when the lights are out. Sometimes you have to do some groping around. Leaders who don’t find the sharp edges of their company are often the ones who begin to line extend outside of the core brand or start trying to operate outside the core competencies. After a time, the sharp perspective of the future vision can become extremely unfocused and off-track.
Allow other leaders to shape your view. Stay in touch with your team, having regular conversation about your perspective and direction. Understand there are different viewpoints inside your company which can help your many blind spots. Make sure you spend time with new employees before they have become assimilated into your company. See what things they see and compare notes. Talking with new people after the first month can really open your eyes. Do not limit this in inside conversations. Most of your perspective focus can really happen from outside the company. Talk to customers. If you really want to know what they think, ask them. Talk to your consultant or other industry experts. Outside perspective can see what you can’t. It is like standing outside a vehicle while the leader drives it, there is no way to see it all from the driver’s seat. Sometimes, the outsider even sees your people from a better perspective than you. We all have blind spots. Outside perspective is often the viewpoint leaders fear most, because it is often the most powerful catalyst for positive change and future growth.
Allow your perspective to be flexible. Leaders must be open to new ideas and changes to our perspective. Sometimes we must re-focus our perspective, which guides our path and our company. We can adopt a new perspective or we can cling to our tried and true viewpoint, but as leaders, we never stop being responsible for our companies and those we lead.