Published: June 18, 2008
Every leader needs to be able to see things differently, to think outside the box. The business world values fresh perspectives because it's being different, being ahead of the pack that creates demand for products and services. When the leaders of churches and non-profit organizations develop and introduce fresh insights, it brings growth.
How important is a new perspective? In "The Effective Executive," Peter Drucker tells of a medical supply company knocked from the top position in its industry. The company leaders were shocked because their products were technically superior to those of the rival who beat them.
Eventually, they learned that their successful competitor didn't win by spending a huge research budget on technical breakthroughs. Instead of battling them on their own turf, they sent their people into the hospitals and doctor's offices that used these products, encouraging them to observe and listen, not to sell.
The information and fresh insights they gained by learning about their customers' environment and challenges lead to new perspectives that made them the industry's provider of choice.
Healthy Attitudes Foster New Perspectives
Our attitudes will greatly influence our ability to develop new perspective.
If we believe that we have to be competent in every area, it breeds an independent spirit. While a certain amount of independence is healthy, we must guard against developing a spirit that cannot accept other people ideas, as this blocks us from gaining new perspective. We have to be healthy enough and free enough to admit that we cannot be strong in every area.
It's much healthier to focus on developing an interdependent spirit. As leaders, we don't need to know it all; we just need to know people who have strengths that complement us. We can surround ourselves with people who can show us what we need to see, people who can help us to understand what we need. I don't need to know how to program a computer; I just need someone who can do it for me.
I don't need to see everything; I just need to be connected to people who can see what I may not be seeing. You have to be able to select the right advisors, like the President does by picking his cabinet. As I mention in my book, Who's Holding Your Ladder, you have to select the right people to hold the ladder that you're climbing.
There are three groups of people that we need to be connected to: Those we are giving a hand up, peers to whom we are reaching out, and people who are where we'd like to be and are reaching down to mentor us. I use the term "trans-dependence" to describe how we're related to these three groups of people. We need all three groups to be healthy. Trans-dependence keeps me rooted in my past, gives me context for my present, and offers me perspective for my future.
Healthy leaders can say, "I don't know everything, I don't need to know everything, and that's not a sign of weakness. I only need to be connected to people who can help me achieve my goals."
Research tells us that leaders with the humility to cultivate a healthy, trans-dependent spirit create winning organizations. In his classic study on the characteristics of great companies, Jim Collins said that an executive with the odd mix of genuine personal humility and an intense professional will was the critical component in all high-performing organizations.
In defining the traits of these "Level 5 Leaders," Collins says he was shocked by their modesty, by their desire not to talk about themselves but to focus attention on other executives. Collins also found the inverse to be true: Leaders with huge egos are detrimental to their organizations. While their charisma and skills may help make beneficial changes, these leaders weren't able to maintain sustained performance at this level.
Having the humility to go from being the answer person to being a facilitator of your organization's success is a completely different mindset. Instead of saying, "The buck stops here," you're saying, "The buck starts here." The leader with perspective gets things started. Once you get things started, you put responsibility in the hands of the right people and they stop the buck. You don't know everything and that's not a bad thing. It's just a different perspective.
Dr. Samuel Chand is sought after by churches and businesses alike for his pragmatic and authentic approach to producing leaders. A “dream releaser” and consultant to many of today's emerging leaders, Chand is the author of seven books, including his latest release, “Ladder Focus.” You can discover more about Chand at http://www.samchand.com.
Copyright © 2008 Dr. Samuel Chand and 316 Networks. All rights reserved.