Developing Your Leadership Lens

Any photography enthusiastic understands that, whilst the subject remains the same, the choice of lens will change how it is viewed. What is true for cameras is also true for people, as we all see the world through our own lens of perception and bias.

A wide-angle lens gives you the 'big picture', whilst other times you will want to 'zoom in' to see detail. To have only one lens would cause you to miss out on so much.

Developing Your Leadership Lens

Let me ask you a question; "Do you like to have the data points and build a picture from what you have, or do you prefer to start with a big picture and then work out the details later?"

Neither of these approaches are right or wrong, 'Big Picture' and 'Detail Orientation' are both useful, but the premise of this post, is that to be an effective leader, you need both, plus the ability to focus.

Some leaders focus on the positive and some on the negative and it shows in how they speak. What we say is a ‘reflection of the 'image' we have created in our mind about people or opportunities. As you listen to what people say, you get a clear picture of how they have 'framed' an experience. Becoming aware of how you are speaking will give you great feedback on what lens you have been using.

Effective leadership and innovation require seeing things from multiple perspectives, and with experience you come to realize that there is never just one right lens. To maximize your impact, make it a habit to consciously look at someone or something through a different lens.

This mental flexibility will pay dividends in work and life. I urge you to take one situation or relationship and look at it through a different lens, you might be surprised by what you see.

Changing Perspective

I was recently conducting an Executive Presence Workshop, and I asked participants to introduce themselves, and state their value to the company. Some participants found this easy, and some found it hard.

I demonstrated the following with a young professional:

"Introduce yourself, through the lens of all the mistakes you have made."

I asked the audience to rate his confidence and they scored him about 5/10.

"Now introduce yourself through the lens of your past successes and the belief that you can do more great things."

The transformation was tangible and the audience rated him 8.5/10 - just by changing his 'lens'. 

If you have any examples of how you have been using 'different lenses' feel free to comment on this post.

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