3 REASONS WHY PERSPECTIVE-TAKING IS A VALUABLE LEADERSHIP SKILL

How many times have you reacted so quickly about something that you ended up with your foot in your mouth?

One day you were driving along a usually clear road when suddenly you see a mile-long bumper-to-bumper line of cars. You grumble, „Why can’t these people fix the road at night?! They had to block the road when all the cars are rushing home?!“ As your car gets near the reason for the mile-long traffic, you see a crumpled car beside a tow truck. 

You choke. Your foot just got stuck in your mouth. 

At a construction site, the project site manager arrived and saw the workers huddled. He blew his top and yelled at the crew for „delaying work.“ One of the workers spoke up and said, „the materials have not arrived, boss.“    

Perspective-taking, according to Psychology Today, is a multidimensional ability that includes understanding not only of someone’s visual assessment of reality (their viewpoint) but also their perceptual assessment (their understanding). 

In these COVID times, it would de-escalate a lot of frazzled nerves and soothe a lot of hurts if we learn to see the other’s point of view – family of covid patients wanting prompt medical attention and seeing health care professionals getting infected and dying from their service.  

Simply put, perspective-taking is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and seeing things from their perspective.

Ask this question, “What would you do if you were in my shoes?” and this will give you an idea of how the other person perceives a situation. 

HERE ARE THREE REASONS WHY LEADERS NEED TO DEVELOP THIS VALUABLE LEADERSHIP SKILL:

  1. Perspective-taking provides leaders with a new level of understanding

As a leader, you look at situations differently than a colleague. It is because you have a different exposure than them. 

Travels can change a person’s perspective. The traveller gets exposed to different people, cultures, lifestyles, and social systems, and so when he comes home, he has a different view about many things. He can become more appreciative of his life, his country, and his culture. He can also become passionate about making changes in his life, work, or community to model the places he visited.

You, as a leader, also look at things from a different perspective. Your associations and responsibilities have something to do with it. Looking at a situation from another point of view will provide you with a broader outlook and give any of your decisions a more objective quality.     

  1. Perspective-taking shows humility in leaders

How would you feel if your boss suddenly comes to your office and asks for your perspective about a situation you have in your office? Initially, you might be taken aback and feel unqualified to offer an opinion. On the other hand, you will feel delighted to be asked for your point of view. 

And how would you look at your leader? Do you see him as weak for asking you? Or you look at him with admiration because he is humble enough to ask. He does not pretend he knows everything. He respects and values your knowledge. 

Intellectually humble people will have respect for the opinion and views of others and therefore will always welcome their side of the matter. Besides, perspective-taking conversations create positive relationships within your team. You get to know how they think. Have a genuine interest in your team. 

  1. Perspective-taking shows respect and builds loyalty

Listening to other people’s perspectives does not mean you will accept and agree with them. It just means you value them, their opinion, their perspective, and you are willing to listen. 

Perspectives are formed and may evolve through experiences, values, education, associations, and many more. And, therefore, perspective differs from one person to the next. Each person brings a different perspective to the table. It is interesting to go around the table to ask each one’s perspective of a subject. Just like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get. 

When a leader intently listens to his team’s perspective, it gives his team the reason to trust him. It boosts their confidence, knowing their voice is heard, considered, and valued. Many times, you will be surprised, the newbie will give you a whole new way to look at a situation. 

Consequently, those perspective-taking conversations build employee loyalty. 

WHAT COULD BAR A LEADER FROM LEARNING From Learning PERSPECTIVE-TAKING Skill?

  1. Bias

Your organisation has inclusion issues if not everyone is given equal opportunities to contribute. The more diverse (culture, experience, education, gender, age, etc.) an organisation is, the stronger the need for inclusion. A leader must create an environment where an employee’s end-to-end experience, on a daily basis, promotes inclusion.

Do you favour the 20 and disregard the 80? Beware of partisanship. You might be inviting the wrong people to the table.

  1. Ego

Forget self. Your perspective could be as good as the other. And it can also be limited as the next person. There is no monopoly of perspective. The more perspective you get, the better. 

Crush the “curse of knowledge.” It forms blindspots. Listen with an open mind. And speak in a language everyone understands. Encourage your team to do the same. No jargon-speaking, please. Make sure that when anyone says “M”, everyone sees and hears “M” and not “W.”

ONE WAY TO PRACTISE PERSPECTIVE-TAKING SKILL

Try this activity in your next meeting to demonstrate the skill, place two members of your team face to face. Put a number 6 or 9 in front of them and ask each one what number they see. Naturally, one will say 6 and the other will say 9. Then, ask them to exchange places. Then ask the same question. This time, each one of them will say the opposite of what they initially said. Or, you may use the letter M or W. 

And in your next board meeting, why don’t you start with a fun game to show the link between power and perspective.

Perspective-taking is not about making judgements based on how you assume the other person feels or thinks. But rather, holding judgement (or none at all) until you get the other’s perspective. 

Perspective-taking is a continuous process of collaboration, empathy, and communication for understanding. 

Put yourself in the other’s shoes. It’s all a matter of perspective. 

Level up your self-development training plan to include a perspective-taking workshop. 

There is a fun way to learn this skill. Reach out and send me a message to discuss the details. 

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