Waiting in a client’s 11th floor meeting room, I looked out the window at the London skyline and thought how what I saw could be a metaphor for coaching.
The nature of my work means I travel all over London, and see the skyline from different locations. The familiar city looks very different from different vantage points. Some buildings are obscured, others are visible and it looks totally different from different heights.
As a leader, we have a certain perspective as a result of our unique position. But that is only your own view.
Are you in a position to see situations from other perspectives? Are you, from your vantage point, able to see the detail at lower levels? Do you know whether other people see the situation in the same way? What about people who may be directly involved or affected by a situation, how do they see it? When you look at a situation, do you see the view, or a view?
We are products of a combination of our environment, our experience, our genes and our personality. We can only see situations through our own lens, which will never be exactly the same as another person. Almost by definition every perspective is a unique perspective.
Where we stand determines what we see. It is not always possible to understand how someone else views a situation, because we don’t have the same experience of it. We must ask, and crucially listen, to get others’ view of the picture.
Five things to try:
- Ask yourself: “Is there another way of looking or dealing with this?”
- Ask others “ How do you see this situation? What do you think of this?”
- Explore different views together to add to the detail of mutual understanding of multiple angles
- When presenting your view, check what others understand of your position
- Check your assumptions to make sure you are not dealing with your view of the world only
When we react or behave according to our view of things, we are probably ignoring how other people experience the situation. This is particularly true if we assume others see the situation the same way we do.
Failure to ask and involve other people when creating a complete view of a situation can cause much misunderstanding and many lost opportunities.