When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years. – Mark Twain
One of the most powerful realizations for anyone—especially a leader—is the day you discover that your view of reality isn’t necessarily (isn’t even usually) the same as reality itself. We all have a point of view; meaning, we have a finite vantage point from which we see people, issues, and situations. Reality exists, but we rarely see it in its objective form.
Regardless, leaders still need to make decisions according to their best guess of reality. One of the best ways to improve your guess is to collect different points of view into a unified, strategic perspective. Here are seven tips to keep in mind as you gather other opinions and viewpoints:
1. Quantity helps. The more perspectives you get, odds are, the better picture you’ll get.
2. Diversity helps even more. The more varied perspectives, the fuller the composite view. Talk to everyone from the janitor to the CEO. Don’t dismiss people because of position (higher or lower).
3. Really listen. Don’t just go through the motions. Appreciating someone’s point of view is more important than agreeing with it.
4. Put Yourself in their shoes. Use your imagination. Try to truly look out from where they are.
5. No one has the whole truth. No one sees all the dimensions of reality; we all have a limited piece of the puzzle. Don’t take any person’s opinion as the gospel.
6. Hold your tongue. Don’t offer your opinion right away. If you’re the leader, you might unintentionally shut down other people.
7. Don’t overlook your own view. You have a valid point of view yourself, don’t lose it among all the others. Your perspective might just be the missing piece to the puzzle.
How do you ensure others’ perspectives help and don’t hinder your vision?