Perceptions and Perspective
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
We are bombarded with messages, questions, and information all day long. Determining how to respond or even what to think is becoming much more difficult. This reality is affecting leaders across every sector of society. This past weekend, I was asked to speak on Spiritual Leadership for a group of leaders in my faith community in Windsor, Ontario. As I pondered the difficulties facing leaders, I chose the topic of Perceptions and Perspectives. If we are to lead effectively, we need to be able to determine what truth really is. Realizing that we see everything through the lens of our own perceptions and from our own perspective, we need tools to clear our vision.
We must first realize that our life experiences shape our perceptions and perspectives. Where and with whom did you grow up? Who did we allow to speak “truth” into our lives? Please know that I am not saying these people were wrong or that your perceptions and perspectives are wrong; we just need to know that they filter what we see and hear. Our perceptions and perspectives are also affected by the generation we are part of. (Keep an eye out for a new class I will be leading on this topic titled A New Diversity.) So, let’s look at some tips that can help us.
- Try to see the world through the other person’s eyes. A great way to start clearing our filter is to intentionally try to see situations through the eyes of others. When you’re interacting with someone, put yourself in their shoes. Ask open-ended questions that can help the person express their thoughts more fully. Listen with an open mind and with the intent to understand. Show empathy and truly care for them. Remember, empathizing doesn’t mean that you agree with them; it does mean that you care.
- Avoid comparing experiences. So often, we hear something from someone that reminds us of an experience we may have had in the past. Often, our first thought is to compare this to our own experience. While this has merit, and the person may get to a point where they want to hear it, don’t share it yet. Ask the person to tell you more about what they have experienced and focus on their story and the meaning of what they share.
I recently interviewed Dr. Timothy Elmore, author of A New Diversity, and asked if there were any similarities between the five generations in the workforce today. His reply was so profound; all five were looking for the same three things in their interactions: humility, respect, and curiosity. That sounds like good leadership to me.