One of the complaints I sometimes have with leaders that are above me is that they don’t have the same perspective that I have. Not that I expect to have the same perspective. I expect them to understand my perspective. The higher one goes in the ladder of leadership, the more difficult it becomes to understand the points of view of those that might be lower on the ladder. The view is different. It makes sense. The top leader must have a wider view of the vision of the organization, where it is and where it is going. The people lower on the ladder have an equally important perspective. They are expected to carry out the tasks that bring the vision to reality. They see more of the day-to-day functioning of the organization that ultimately determines whether that vision does come to fruition.
Am I losing my perspective? I’m not the top leader by any means, but my view is different. As a Diocesan leader, I do not see the day-to-day perspective of those serving in the parishes. This could potentially be an obstacle for me, because it is my job to serve the parishes and give them the resources they need to succeed in their ministries.
How do I not lose my perspective?
1. Be in regular contact with those I’m serving. This could be, in my case, the leaders in the parish. But this also needs to be anyone that works for us, whether staff or volunteer. Make it a priority to meet regularly with your “direct reports” and listen for their perspective. They see things that I do not see. This could be monthly, weekly, or whatever interval of meeting is effective. Another important perspective is of those that we are ultimately serving: parishioners in our churches.
2. Be open to constructive feedback. I learn a lot from people who come to me to share their point of view and how things might be done better. Because their view is different, their rational is often valid. I need to be humble and recognize that many of the best ideas I’ve ever implemented have not been my ideas.
3. Don’t lose my own perspective. The perspective of others is really important, but it does not trump my perspective. Leaders often see a bigger picture of what is happening in the organization then others do. This is a good thing. I must balance the view of perspectives and recognize, that sometimes, I have to make a decision that is contrary to the perspective of others. If I truly have the big picture in mind and am working to improve the organization, then that decision will be a good one.
What will you do today to gain the perspectives of others?