Keen Leadership: Perspective is Everything

I read an article the other day while sitting in the dentist's office.  It was called, "What If Humans Had Eagle Vision" by Natalie Wolchover.  I would have to say that it was interesting and was not anything that I had ever thought about as I've seen many eagles on my adventures.  The article talked about how eagle's eyes would allow humans to have a sharper focus, a central magnifier and superior color vision.  The article went on to state, "Eagle vision wouldn't change how we perform most daily activities — such as reading computer screens or the newspaper, or finding milk in a crowded refrigerator — but how we perceive the world and use our eyes would certainly be different.  On top of the ability to see farther and perceive more colors, we would also have nearly double the field of view. With our eyes angled 30 degrees away from the midline of our faces like an eagle's, we would see almost all the way behind our heads with a 340-degree visual field (compared to normal humans' 180 degree field)."  These are some very interesting differences to think about, but the word that stuck out to me in this article was the word perceive and that we would perceive the world differently with this new eagle vision.  To perceive means to interpret so the way in which an eagle interprets the world is different because of these features.  

Eagles have eyes with special features that definitely enable them to perceive their world differently than we do, but I think another feature that they have is that they can fly at 10,000 feet and their perception of the world has to be different from that altitude.  I thought that even before they perceive (interpret) something, their perspective can and is very different than ours. Flying high and having eyes very different than ours enables them to see things in many ways.  This increased perspective allows them to perceive situations better so that the decisions that they make, say on a hunt, are more accurate and thus make the hunts more successful, more often. 

As a leader, seeing things from many perspectives enables you to perceive or interpret situations more effectively which in turn helps you make the best decisions, not just a decision.  Making decisions without knowing all perspectives can significantly impact your team or organization because you may utilize resources ineffectively or even lose those key resources all together. It's not until after the decisions been made that you realize the negative impact the decision truly would have on your team or organization. 

So how do you gain as many perspectives as you can?  Do you ask for perspectives from those that are in your organization or work directly for you?  To ask is not a bad thing, nor is it a display of weakness; it is actually a great thing that makes those on your team or in your organization know that you don't have all the answers and you need their help.  It makes you humble and that is one of the best traits that a leader can have.  It also makes those you ask feel important and useful in the success of the organization.  They feel like they are part of something instead of just being a worker bee under some sort of administrative leadership.  I bet we have all felt like that worker bee once or twice in our careers.  One example of this is when someone gets hired that you have to work, but no one asks you to interview them.  Or when a big decision needs to be made on a product that you are in charge of producing.  Did you ask the people on the manufacturing floor what they thought could be done to help the product be more successful? My question is: When was the last time that you asked your people for their assistance, for their perspective on a small, or even better, a big decision that you had to make?  

If you are like me, you probably are thinking about a lot of decisions that you have made on your own, but very few that you have intentionally sought out the perspectives of others.  The next time you see a hawk or eagle flying, remember that you need to gain perspective. I challenge you to seek out the opinions and advice of those that sit under you or within your organization so that you, your team and your organization are more successful.

My son came home from Italy this week and brought me a book on the meditations of Marcus Aurelius, a very interesting book so far.  I find it amazing how he reflects on the same things that I do today, thousands of years later.  One of his remarks was, "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.  Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."  I read that and it still pulls at me in many ways. I am reminded that I need to hear opinions and see different perspectives to be a better leader.  I believe that to be 100% true.  What about you?