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Business Well Done™

On the challenges faced by leaders of established businesses.

Necessary Perspective

"At this level, it's all grey area."

If you've been in a leadership role for more than a month, you've run into this thought, or something like it.  At a certain level, pretty much the whole thing is judgment.  There are no easy, black and white issues.

  • How should we handle this?
  • What decision should we make?
  • (and very, very often, should we make a decision at all right now?)

When we're dealing with complex dynamics - personality, culture, market conditions, opportunity cost - we need something more than just our best guesses.  Our own pre-conceived notions or default viewpoint can be a constraint as much as an advantage.  One of the most valuable assets for any leader is access to useful perspective.

Do you have that?  Where do you find it?  And how should you define "useful?"

There are the typical perspectives we seek out: those of people with more information on a particular issue, or people who have more experience in a key area.  But if I'm committed to being the best leader I can be, there's one kind of perspective I must seek continually.

The most potent perspectives are just plain different.  They come from:

  • People who interact with the same market or organization in a different way.
  • People who come from a different background.
  • People whose wiring is different.
  • People we think are "wrong" about (fill in the blank).

Considering different perspectives is like tinkering in a lab.  We get to try on different concepts, imagine how things could be put together in a better way, figure out what is critical and what is not.  The constant challenge for leaders is not ultimately to be right, but to be effective.  And seeking out different views enables the creativity and insight we need to help a bunch of heterogeneous people move in a common direction.

Of course, not every angle from every perspective is instructive.  Some help us understand the challenges we face.  Some give us better ideas on how to get where we want to go. Some may even help us identify a better direction in the first place.  But others prove to be less helpful.  In fact, often the useful is mixed in with the discard-able.  How do we know the difference?

Judgment.

After all, that's the job.  So said a leader who gave me access to a different perspective... a leader who was wise, respected and, most of all, effective.

"At this level, it's all grey area."

Joe Wilson, 1957-2017

Paul SchwadaComment