Self-Leadership: The Power of Perspective
I think about self-leadership often. I connect its contributing role to leading others well and enabling collaboration. In my view, there are four distinctions that make self-leadership possible and effective. All four are needed. They are:
This is the first in a series of five blogs.
Perspective is a distinction about the view I have of my world, looking inward into myself and outward at the world I encounter. What do I notice about myself from where I stand? What can I see when I look out into the world, at others, my relationships and my perceived circumstances? In other words, this is about the observer of the observer I am.
For example, when I worked for AT&T Network Systems as a performance technologist more than 30 years ago, I was accountable for all aspects of the training development process for my assigned projects. I had to grow into the job. Initially I felt insecure in my role. I was unsure of how to engage with designers and technical staff, even feeling I was an imposter afraid of being discovered and exposed.
On a special project to provide technical support, I had the opportunity to partner with an instructional designer, Pat McCann. Rather than accepting the request to develop troubleshooting training for the technical support tiers, we determined that a job aid (real time tool) would be a better solution. With approval, we spent more than a year working with subject matter experts, understanding and mapping the intricacies of the troubleshooting process.
Along the way, we discovered (and closed) many logical disconnects and cul-de-sacs as we streamlined the process. There were many victories along the way. For our company, the product, when delivered, improved customer service - reducing long distance switch down-time and dropped calls - and saved the company millions of dollars.
For me, my view of myself shifted. My sense of efficacy in my work and self-confidence increased. The level of comfort and safety I felt in my job, no matter how challenging, improved. This learning leads me to the first of two questions about Perspective:
Over time, I have shifted the perspective from which I view myself. When I consider and include additional data and experiences, my point of view about myself can change. With fresh eyes, my personal and professional interpretations now align with an evolving, new story about myself. And my stance in the world, both literally and figuratively, continues to shift. This brings me to the second question about Perspective:
From this new perspective and the supportive story that I had generated, my world looks different. I am more connected to and aligned with what I care about. I am willing to take care of what matters most to me. At a deeper level, I am aligned with my purpose, values and principles. As I continue down my self-leadership development path, I now see opportunities I had failed to recognize, new forks in the road. These are choice points. I can choose how to act with integrity and care, fulfill my commitments and clean up any messes I make. Here’s a recent example.
At a conference my team was working on a simulated client case study. One of the team members abruptly chose to leave the activity and the team. Though surprised, disappointed and frustrated, I quickly re-centered myself, staying connected to the larger game we were playing. As the team leader, I accepted his choice and reframed the situation as an “unexpected opportunity”. The team rose to the occasion. We played well together and creatively developed an innovative approach to the client’s challenges. Not only did we produce a valuable deliverable, but we had fun and learned from each other along the way.
Perspective allowed me to shift viewpoint and relationships that enabled me to elevate my game and positively influence the games of others. By the way, the other self-leadership distinctions (responsibility and choice, authorship,action) are also present in those situations as well.
Is your perspective one you’ve authored or one you seem to have had forever? Does it align with your care -with your purpose, values and principles? If not, what do you want to do about it now? When you notice your perspective, you begin to sharpen your self-leadership skills.
In the next blog I will discuss Responsibility and Choice. Feel free to share your thoughts and experience about Perspective in the comments section.
I’d like to acknowledge and thank Joe Slatter for the dialog that enabled me to better articulate these distinctions.
Image provided through UNSPLASH by Kid Circus