I’ve noticed something interesting lately in my conversations with corporate leaders. Naturally, there are a few common themes: increasing demands and endless meetings that suck up valuable work time. (I’m guessing you can relate to that.) But when I ask these leaders how they personally contribute while in meetings, I almost always get an answer that involves status updates. Giving them or getting them. Briefing or being briefed. And I believe that’s part of the problem.
Companies expect leaders to share their perspectives, not just their progress. I’m talking about their unique insights, opinions and viewpoints based on their experiences. Makes sense, right? But that’s not the end of the story. If you want to stand out and reconnect with the parts of your job that invigorate you, think about perspectives as a concept with multiple layers, not just a one-dimensional process.
Here are the three pillars of perspective that can help to differentiate you as a modern leader:
This is the obvious angle. Leaders have earned the privilege of explaining their rationale for decisions and offering valuable feedback. By providing employees with their experience-based perspectives, these leaders can directly help to boost their teams’ productivity while developing stronger connections with them.
Some (but certainly not all) leaders understand the importance of reversing the process. In other words, they are willing to listen carefully to the perspectives of those around them—their team members, customers, followers, and general stakeholders. Instead of automatically assuming their ideas and opinions are superior, they accept feedback and perspectives from others with a sense of grace and humility. They might use tools like active listening techniques and reflective inquiry, which is rephrasing what they’ve heard to demonstrate their dedication to understanding a different point of view. People feel heard and validated; everyone wins.
This is the angle that’s frequently overlooked or avoided, except by the most evolved leaders. They move beyond the traditional give-and-take of perspectives and elevate the process to a whole new dimension. Modern leaders intentionally seek out perspectives from those who will absolutely and completely disagree with their own views. Instead of approaching that as a stressful task with guaranteed conflict, they see it as a way of challenging their own thinking and broadening their horizons. In fact, they make it a habit to actively invite feedback and ideas from people with different backgrounds, skillsets, industry experiences, and values.
By pushing the perspective envelope, these modern leaders amass a rich collection of information from which to draw when making critical business decisions. They add depth to their strategic choices and fuel greater innovation by layering hard data with soft intelligence. From my perspective (pun intended), this is a highly underutilized leadership tool that separates the extraordinary leaders from the average ones.
What about you? Do you think of perspective-sharing as a surface-level activity or a 3-D business process? I’d love to hear about your experiences.