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Looking over the wall

Looking over the wall

Context and perspective

If you are going to function as a leader you need to think differently about your perspective. 

If your perspective is limited, then your understanding and decision-making will be limited.

In a previous blog we looked at making time to plan regularly and to develop strategies.

Every strategy has a context, and as a leader you need to make the effort to understand the context you are working in. 

The context of your work environment

Your context could be a team in a department, or a department in a company or organisation, or a company in an industry, or a country on a continent.

Seeing the bigger picture and understanding the context will be easier for some than others, but it is something you have to take the time to do, no matter how you are wired. 

Before you were a leader you looked at the view through the window. Your outlook was framed. If you moved the picture moved, and your view was always limited. The view through the window might be beautiful, and even focused or incisive, but it is always limited.

If you are going to make good decisions as a leader you have to broaden, and raise, your perspective. Instead of seeing life through a window, you need to get up higher and look over the wall. 

Being a leader means you need to become a student who is continually learning. Books, articles, blogs, Ted Talks, courses, studying, asking questions, having discussions, must become part of your routine. Every good leader will have a learning plan for the year where they outline where they are aiming to improve or grow. Added to technical skills and soft skills, you need to learn about your context.

Great examples

Sometimes the context is a great fit for the type of person you are, and sometimes it is not.

Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill are great examples of the context and the fit. In terms of their wiring, they were perfect for the roles that they played in history.

What also set them apart as leaders is that they had a much broader perspective then most, and a well-defined grasp of their context. They had to push through with strategies even when those around them could not see what they saw. They are two great examples of people who looked over the wall.

The context of values

I will unpack values, and in particular “managing values”, in a series of blogs in the coming weeks, but it is important for you to understand that as a leader your role is to ensure that decisions are made in the context of your team’s values.

Firstly, you need to understand what values are. This might sound a bit obvious, but I have not met many people who really understand values. 

Second, you need to have clarified, documented and discussed your values with your team. Once this is done you now have a context. If you look over the wall you will see how your team’s values fit into the context of your department or division’s values, and how these fit into the companies’ or organisation’s values. 

From then on, every decision, every communication, every interaction, every plan or strategy, every meeting, every review, must be positioned in the context of the team’s values.

If your perspective is limited, then your understanding and decision-making will be limited.

Written by Doug Johnson

Published on 19th Jun 2020

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