The Power of Perspective in Leadership

Chapter_02_Perspective (1)

The Power of Perspective in Leadership

[Excerpted from Chapter 02 of my new book, The Top 10 Leadership Conversations in the Bible. You can read the entire book for free at BibleCenteredLeadership.com.]

“The difference between leaders and followers is perspective. The difference between leaders and effective leaders is better perspective.” Dr. J. Robert Clinton

Perspective is to life what a scale is to a map. It helps us see clearly where we are in relation to where we’ve been and where we want to go. As Jesus-following leaders, we gain better perspective as we increasingly see and understand the circumstances of life from God’s vantage point. Jesus spoke to the importance of perspective when he said: “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34). But for leaders, perspective is more than important. It’s crucial.

The story of the twelve spies sent by Moses to explore the land of Canaan is a case study in the power of perspective in leadership. At the Lord’s command, Moses identified one leader from each of the ancestral tribes to scout out the promised land of Canaan. The climactic statement in the report of the spies is one of the most interesting mash-ups of hyperbole and metaphor imaginable: “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Num. 13:33).

Perspective is a leadership differentiator. Leaders see what followers don’t. The most effective leaders see what other leaders don’t. Like Joshua and Caleb, we need better perspective. We grow in leadership effectiveness the more we learn to interpret life from God’s vantage point, which gives us a better perspective.

 Better Perspective on Ourselves

Self-awareness is the primary gateway into effective self-leadership. Each of us must understand ourselves well to lead ourselves well. A simple definition of self-awareness includes two facets: first, being honest with yourself about yourself and second, being honest about yourself with others.[1]

As Jesus-following leaders, we can be tempted to view self-awareness as an attempt to marry psychology and self-help with spiritual leadership. Not so. Every person’s journey of faith begins with an epiphany of self-awareness directed by the Holy Spirit. It starts with being honest with yourself about yourself—by admitting you are a sinner and incapable of changing on your own. Next comes being honest about yourself with others, especially God—by affirming how much you need Jesus as Savior.

Spiritual self-awareness begins with salvation but doesn’t end there. As self-aware leaders, we gain better perspective because we understand our strengths and gaps. We know who God made us to be, and how to leverage our strengths, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to do the good works God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10).

As we become highly self-aware, we discover new levels of confidence and clarity about how God has equipped us to add value to other individuals and contribute to a team. We come to understand where we should give priority to growth and how we are vulnerable to derailing our own leadership.[2]

The ten spies who spread a bad report among the Israelites did not have good perspective on themselves. Otherwise they never would have viewed themselves as grasshoppers. Better leadership perspective requires seeing ourselves more and more in line with how God sees us.

Overcoming Grasshopper Moments

In the book of Judges, Gideon experiences a grasshopper moment. An angel of the LORD approached him with a challenge to lead his people in battle against the Midianites. This story presents a classic contrast of perspectives.

Listen to Gideon’s perspective on himself: “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judg. 6:15).

His words expose an important lesson. We can lose perspective when we compare ourselves with others. Gideon compared his clan to other clans, and himself to others in his family. Every leader understands this temptation. We compare who we are, and the role God has given us, with other leaders.

Sometimes we compare ourselves with people we believe have less capacity and status, because we want to feel more important. Other times we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with leaders who have bigger platforms for influence, and we end up feeding our insecurities. Comparison is a road with deep ditches on both sides. The Devil doesn’t really care which ditch you fall into.

In contrast, the angel of the LORD affirms God’s perspective on Gideon, saying, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior” (Judg. 6:12). The term mighty warrior could literally be translated mighty force. The Hebrew meaning can indicate a person as a mighty force because of great wealth, a strong army, or depth of character. If the first part of Judges 6:12 is true—“The LORD is with you”—then the last part of the verse is also true—“you are a mighty force”—regardless of whether you need resources, protection, or the strength of character to do what is right.

The validation of your leadership, like Gideon’s, has nothing to do with how you compare to others. It has everything to do with a better perspective on yourself, especially this assurance: The Lord is with you as you pursue what he has called you to do. Joshua and Caleb found confidence to take the promised land because they believed, “the LORD is with us” (Num. 14:9).

Learn more about the power of perspective in leadership in The Top 10 Leadership Conversations in the Bible. You can read the entire book for free at BibleCenteredLeadership.com.

 

[1] This definition of self-awareness is modified from Daniel Goleman’s writing about emotional intelligence.

[2] I have developed a self-leadership resource called the Identity Profile Self-Awareness Tool (IPSAT), which is being used by individuals, as well as in churches, organizations and universities, to help people understand the unique combination of personality, strengths, skills, spiritual gifts, and passions. For more information visit myIPSAT.com.

Mentoring as a Force Multiplier in People Development

Multipliers_post_4

In a recent blog post, How Adding Value to People Could Multiply Your Results, I shared 2 Multiplier Questions and 4 Multiplier Domains:

How consistently am I getting the very best from my team?

How can I make the people around me better?

I’ve developed a simple multiplier strategy I can use in four domains (meals, meetings, mentoring, management) to increase the likelihood of answering these two multiplier questions in the affirmative.

In my last post, I outlined my strategy to become a multiplier in meetings. In this post, I’ll share how to multiply others through mentoring.

Mentoring: The Force Multiplier in People Development

The most powerful way to multiply your impact and leave a lasting legacy is by developing other people. One of the highest forms of people development is mentoring. Becoming an effective mentor is like adding a force multiplier to your people development activity.

The simplest definition of mentoring is relational empowerment. In sentence form, mentoring has been defined as a relational experience where one person is empowered by another through the sharing of God-given resources[i]. The interdependency between the two key words in this definition, “relational” and “empowerment,” can be described as follows:

4 Domains of a Multiplier Part 2: [Becoming a Multiplier in Meetings]

Multipliers_post_3In a recent blog post, How Adding Value to People Could Multiply Your Results, I shared 2 Multiplier Questions and 4 Multiplier Domains:

How consistently am I getting the very best from my team?

How can I make the people around me better?

I’ve developed a simple multiplier strategy I can use in four domains (meals, meetings, mentoring, management) to increase the likelihood of answering these two multiplier questions in the affirmative.

In my last post I outlined my strategy to become a multiplier in mealtimes. In this post, I’ll share how to multiply others in meetings.

Not Another Meeting!

The amount of time we spend in meetings is skyrocketing. According to the University of Arizona teamwork study, there are more than 11 million formal meetings per day in the United States, more than 3 billion per year.

Digital technology is driving the cost of organizing meetings down, which is driving the number of meetings up. A study by Bain & Company[1] showed 15% of an organization’s time is consumed in meetings of three or more people and the percentage has risen annually since 2008.

This is exacerbated by dysfunctional meeting behavior, which is also on the rise. Meeting participants view multi-tasking as normative. One of the companies in the Bain study showed nearly a quarter of meeting participants sent three or more emails for every 30 minutes of meeting time. Of course some of those were to other people in the meeting, about issues not related to the meeting. So it is not hard to understand why meetings take longer and are less productive.

Rarely are meetings ever formally evaluated and there are almost never consequences for wasting coworker’s time. Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel said, “Just as you would not permit a fellow employee to steal a piece of office equipment, you shouldn’t let anyone walk away with the time of his fellow managers.”[2]

All this to say, meetings are in desperate need of multipliers. Here’s my question-based strategy for becoming a multiplier in meetings.

4 Domains of a Multiplier Part 1: [Becoming a Mealtime Multiplier]

Multipliers_post_2

In my last blog post, How Adding Value to People Could Multiply Your Results, I shared 2 Multiplier Questions and 4 Multiplier Domains:

If you are responsible to lead others, ask yourself: How consistently am I getting the very best from my team?

Regardless of where you fit in the organization, ask yourself: How can I make the people around me better?

I have identified four priority Multiplier Domains: Meals, Meetings, Mentoring and Management. I’ve outlined a simple strategy I can use in each of these settings to increase the likelihood of answering the two multiplier questions in the affirmative.

In this post, I want to share my multiplier strategy for the first of my four domains – Meals. But before I get to the strategy, I think it will help if you understand why I’m so committed to leveraging these mealtime interactions as a multiplier.

Mealtime Multipliers God used to Save My Ministry

Twice, within a span of six months, God used an unexpected conversation over a meal to breathe life into my ministry. I believe one of those conversations saved my ministry. And it has forever changed my perspective on the multiplier potential of mealtime encounters.

How Adding Value to People Could Multiply Your Results: [The 5 Disciplines of Multipliers]

Multipliers_post_1

A business leader friend shared with me over coffee how challenging it was to interact with the CEO of his company. Every conversation went in the same direction. Regardless of the length of the meeting or topic of discussion, his boss made sure everyone left understanding he was the smartest person in the room.

In fact, his boss is a genius, and without question the smartest person in the room. But every interaction left team members feeling diminished, and demotivated. What this very smart leader failed to understand is his approach ensured he would not get the best from his team.

By making them feel dumber he had no hope of helping them get better.

My friend’s boss was a classic “diminisher.” This language comes from the research of Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown, who spent two years asking the question: What are the vital few differences between intelligence diminishers and intelligence multipliers, and what impact do they have on organizations? They published their findings in the book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.

My friend’s boss, smart as he was, completely missed an important truth: “It isn’t how much you know that matters. What matters is how much access you have to what other people know. It isn’t just how intelligent your team members are; it is how much of that intelligence you can draw out and put to use.”[1]

Diminshers, regardless of how smart they are, leave all kinds of ideas and potential on the table.

Why What You Can’t See Is Holding You Back

Graphic for Why What You Can't See Is Holding You Back

The truth about you is that you don’t know the truth about you.[1] And you never will, unless you ask for help. That’s why growing your self-awareness is so important.

The idea of self-awareness for leaders has been advanced primarily by Daniel Goleman’s work on emotional intelligence. Self-awareness is being honest with yourself, about yourself, and honest about yourself, with others. Self-aware leaders know their strengths and gaps. They understand where and when they need the input of others, how they best contribute, and where they fall short.

Pop culture has given us a powerful example of the lack of self-awareness with American Idol auditions. You can see some of the all-time worst here. When I watch this I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Sure, it’s funny. But how could anyone this bad really believe they could sing well enough to compete on American Idol?

Then I remember, the truth about me is I don’t know the truth about me. My blind spots are not as big as these American Idol hopefuls, but I still have them. You do too. And you will never fully realize your potential if you don’t engage the lifelong journey of exposing this self-awareness gap.

Four Keys to Reaching Your Goals

Why What Your Local Gym Thinks They Know About You Doesn’t Have to be True

Four Keys to Reaching Your Goals

One out of four people will abandon their New Year’s resolutions in about seven days. Six out of ten will give up within six months.

Your local gym is banking on these numbers, literally.

As documented by NPR, the business model of your neighborhood gym is based on the fact most people with a membership won’t come. If everyone with a membership showed up on the same day, the typical gym would have over twenty times the number of people the fire marshal safely allows in the building.

Instead of complaining the first few weeks of the year about overcrowding, I remind myself these people are subsidizing my membership, without them I couldn’t afford to join, and my gym would go out of business.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Based on my own experience and from coaching many others, I promise these four simple (but not easy) steps will help you go to the next level of personal development, in any area of your life.

Episode 1

It's Your Turn - The nexleader Podcast

Podcast_Image_Episode_1

 

Show Notes – In this episode you will hear…

Introduction

An overview of the format including Idea Watch, Quick Reads and our monthly conversation

Idea Watch

Why organization-wide mentoring programs tend to under perform, one key principle to help mentoring relationships last longer and have deeper impact

Quick Reads

Exploration of historical mentoring, the big idea in Steve’s new ebook, Why Dead People Make the Best Mentors

Monthly Conversation

A historical mentoring example with inspiring stories of resilience from the life of Winston Churchill

 

Seven Symptoms of Insecure Leadership – As Modeled by Herod the Great

Blog_Post_Seven_Symptoms_of_Insecure_Leadership

Matthew described Herod’s response to the inquiry from the Magi about a king born to the Jews in three words, “he was disturbed.” Herod’s reputation was such that upon hearing how he felt, “all Jerusalem” was disturbed with him. (Matthew 2:3) It is ironic that a leader known as Herod the Great could be such an embodiment of insecurity in leadership.

Everyone has some level of an identity crisis, which is expressed in self-talk. Here’s how the inner dialogue played out with one leader, as written in a journal entry: “I wander alone, and ponder. I muse, I mope, I ruminate. We have not men fit for the times. We are deficient in genius, education, in travel, fortune—in everything I feel unutterable anxiety.”

These are the words of John Adams, written before the meeting of the First Continental Congress in 1774. And who would join him at this meeting? Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, just to name a few. Not a bad list. Even the greatest leaders, deep down, wrestle with a measure of insecurity.

There is a big difference between this honest and somewhat universal self-evaluation and a level of insecurity that repeatedly colors leadership decision-making. My first reaction to Herod’s insecurity was to write it off as an expression of his moral bankruptcy. But the more I’ve thought about it the more I believe that while we don’t identify with what Herod did, we may well relate to why he did it—insecurity in leadership.

Has insecurity ever affected your leadership decision-making? We all could learn a vicarious lesson from Herod the Great.

Why I’m Devoting the Best Years of My Life to Next Generation Leaders

An Open Letter from Steve Moore to the Great Commission Community of North America

Dear partner in ministry,

Since I announced in May 2014 the decision to step away from my role as president of Missio Nexus, nearly every conversation I’ve had with Great Commission influencers included an obvious question: what are you going to do next?

I answered that question in a February 2015 announcement, explaining I have accepted the invitation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) to launch a new initiative under their umbrella as Executive Director of nexleader. In this role, starting July 1, 2015, I began working with ABHE president Ralph Enlow and staff along with the leadership of the approximately 200 ABHE member and affiliated institutions to create a leader development initiative for the high potential young leaders in their network of nearly 55,000 students.

It is understandable the initial curiosity surrounding my transition was centered on “what’s next.” But the more important question from my perspective is “why?” This open letter is my answer.