Shift your perception to change the game

Mrs. John Winthrop, Artist John Singleton Copley 1738–1815
Released under Creative Commons by the Metropolitan Museum of Art

We take our world-view for granted. We incorrectly presume that others see things as we see them. Amy E. Herman takes executives from different walks of life, including New York City police officers, into museums and galleries, not just to look at the art but to talk with each other about what they see, or often more importantly what they don’t see. Spending time in this unfamiliar world helps them increase their powers of observation and particularly to have their view enriched by how others see things. In her book, Visual Intelligence, Herman says, “To be a hero to our bosses, our families and ourselves, we need to shake up our world-view and shift our perspective.

Greg shifted his perception and became a hero for one of his business unit stakeholders. He viewed them as negative, complaining and out to destroy the reputation of the IT department that he led. If both parties continued this way, the stakeholder would end up bypassing Greg’s department and he would become more and more frustrated. He decided to break the impasse by instituting a series of information briefings aimed at better understanding his stakeholder’s business. He invited the head of the group to outline her strategic objectives, the market forces they faced, the feedback from their customers, their business metrics and so on. The more he viewed things through her eyes, the better he understood her unit’s critical dependence on technology.

He suggested technology solutions that would give them a strategic advantage; solutions they had not considered previously. Greg’s stakeholder gained greater trust and confidence in him as he demonstrated his genuine interest in her business. She now regularly seeks his advice on strategic initiatives and has stopped complaining about the IT department. She sees the value of his unique world-view in achieving her business objectives.

It sounds easy enough, but Greg had to give up defending his world view as the ‘right’ one, be willing to see the world through his stakeholder’s eyes and validate her world-view.

How could you shift your perception and change the game?

Best regards, Brian
Read more in my new book – Leadership Is Changing the Game – The Transition from Technical Expert to Leader. 
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