In the last few posts, I’ve taken a look at self-awareness and the value of embracing, understanding, and leveraging our emotions to be more effective as leaders and as people. There’s another aspect of self-awareness that has made a significant impact on me as a leader…
Perspective…seeing yourself and all you do as attached to meaning…seeing how you bring meaning, good-bad-questionable, into every situation…seeing how your view of yourself can differ from how others see you.
I remember when I first realized that even my silence in a meeting meant something to others. I received feedback early in my management career that my tendency to observe the situation and remain silent could be perceived as disengagement. It left people wondering where I stood on the issues, and what I thought about them as people. From my perspective, I was just giving people a chance to talk that enjoyed talking more than I did. I chalked it up to preference more than anything.
In truth, I’m a processor, often thinking about ways to apply what I am learning. As a leader it was important for me to learn to be self-aware in this area. To better understand and align with the perspective with others, I started asking questions of the group that I was only asking myself previously. I soon realized that thoughtful questions provide value just as much as new ideas. When I would think of something to contribute after the meeting, I started to seek out peers to collaborate on ideas. My peer team of managers eventually began to see me as more engaged, and even as a thought leader!
Here’s one more thing that needed to happen…
Since I knew that I wouldn’t see everything clearly on my own, I needed to find a way to broaden my perspective. The only way to balance my view with the perspective of others was to ask for help. I needed to ask for feedback and accountability from those that I trusted – those that would tell me the honest and sometimes-hard-to-hear truth.
Over the years, my managers, peers, and co-workers have helped me to maintain balanced perspective. Their honesty has made me a better leader.
How do you gain perspective?