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Why is Perspective Important in Leadership

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

In this post, I am talking about perspective. I have had a lot of different experiences recently regarding perspective and I wanted to expand on it and share some thoughts about perspective.

Experience 1: An Experiential Leadership Perspective

I was at an event with my husband and children, and when we recalled the event later we all remembered it differently - we were together AT THE SAME EVENT, but our experiences were significantly different, and our memories were also significantly different. I know that if you asked someone to share what they experienced from an event you both attended, you would be surprised at how different their experience was from yours.

The reason behind this is we see things differently, we hear different things, and we talk to different people, but most importantly we bring our own perspectives to each and every event and occasion. That means we remember the same events differently. When you consider this, it makes sense - but have you ever gotten into an argument about a memory with someone? I know I have, but if I remind myself that it may have just been a different perspective, perhaps we would have avoided the argument in the first place.

Experience 2: A Behavior Leadership Perspective

The first time I heard the term microaggression was in 2018, when a biracial student of mine shared some of her insights with me and her peers. She spoke to me about her experience with people touching her hair, and that her peers would reach out and touch her hair. Sometimes they would ask, but usually, it was after already doing the act. I remember asking her why this was happening, and what it meant to her to have it happen. I understood that the act was a violation of her space, but I didn’t understand why others would do it so blatantly.

She shared the idea of microaggressions and other microaggressions that she experienced. I started reading more about this and learning wherever I could. What is implied with the word is small, because of the prefix micro, I didn’t realize then that that word made me (and others) think that these acts were small. When I read the book Subtle Acts of Exclusion by Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran, they defined how the term microaggressions also has an impact. From my learning in the book, I realized that the act may seem small to me the aggressor - it’s only one act, it’s small, how can it be a big deal?

It’s not.

To me.

But if every person does the same act or version of the same act, the aggression is amplified, making it no longer micro to the receiver. This small fact stopped me in my tracks - the small shift in perspective had a profound effect on my understanding.

Experience 3: An Observational Leadership Perspective

I created a box that had different items in it. I asked my small group to write what they saw, without moving. Then I asked them to share with the group. What we found is that from different perspectives we cannot see the same thing as others.

Again, it seems so obvious when we approach it from this exercise, but it happens all the time to us. We are walking down the same street, and I can’t see what you see because my view is blocked. Later we shared what we saw with friends and you shared something I couldn’t see. I might say that wasn’t there - in fact, calling you out as a liar, but in reality is it possible that my perspective was blocked?

Experience 4: A Communication Leadership Perspective

When we are working together, it is often miscommunication that causes the most drama and challenges in the workplace, but it also has a lot to do with perspective. If I have been working with the company longer than my co-workers, I may have a different perspective than they do. Chances are, we already have different perspectives because we bring our backgrounds into the workplace. I was working with the most dedicated and compassionate team. This team did not have the same calendar schedule, and one day one of the members was missing - how could they let the team down? The team had to scramble to fill in for the absence and may have even felt angry for the absence that wasn’t communicated. There was miscommunication at its worst, but the problem was no one knew that the calendars were not the same.

The employee who was absent had the perspective that they did not have to work that day, so why would they let the team know they wouldn’t be there? They thought the other members of the team would not be there either.

The team left to cover the absence - having the perspective that the absence was irresponsible, but they too didn’t know why the absence was happening.

Who is right? Who is wrong? Luckily for you, you have the perspective of knowing both sides of the problem. So here, perspective is key - especially regarding how to handle the situation.

These are just four different examples of how perspectives can impact our leadership, relationships, and connections with others. The next time you and someone you care about, work for, admire, (or better yet, despise) are arguing - ask yourself about the other person’s perspective. Could it just have been different than yours?

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