One of the most important lessons you can learn as a leader is to appreciate the perspective of others in your team. We’re all different and naturally approach work related tasks differently too. Leaders can become stronger if they appreciate different points of view and allow their team members to complete tasks in their own way.
We all have different perspectives on life. This is obvious when we consider the most basic things such as liking different foods or preferring different lifestyles and hobbies.
However, when it comes to an environment like a workplace, it can be more tricky to see these differences. We’re all so focused on what we have to do and quite often determined to do it in our own way, that we forget that others are also looking at something in their own way as well.
It’s interesting to see how these different perspectives play out in a group situation – something I’m privileged to observe when we run leadership training here. As an outsider, I have a unique position of looking in on a team – and let me tell you it teaches you a lot.
On numerous occasions, I’ve seen exercises that the team has been set to complete on the verge of failing because everyone has different perspectives. For example, one person wants to sit down and plan out what to do beforehand and another wants to work it out as they go along.
This difference in approach comes back to personality and leadership style, and both methods would get to the end goal just fine. However, because the teammates are unable to see each other’s perspective, the result is disharmony, lack of communication and inertia. Frustration results, as the person who is the team leader feels that their perspective should be respected, while other team members feel ignored and undervalued.
Meanwhile, the horse that has been assigned to work with the team is also unhappy with the situation and refuses to do anything due to feeling uncomfortable. It’s ultimately this which shines a light on the situation and forces the human team members to confront the fact that everyone has a different point of view. The horses make everyone listen to each other.
Different leadership perspectives – but everyone is right
This is just one small example of how leaders can vastly improve how well we lead by recognising and respecting the point of view of others. Understand that team members all have different styles and it’s not productive to expect others to do something exactly the way you would. As long as they’re delivering results, does it matter how they get there (as long as it’s ethical of course)?
Recently, I read a wonderful summary of this subject by leadership coach Shane Hatton, who I have met and admire greatly. He describes it like this: “things don’t always need to happen your way. If you want to feel control without becoming controlling, then you can’t get pulled down into preferences. Your job as a leader is to manage performance”.
Indeed. As I said in the example above, being too controlling and wanting to do everything your way does not result in team harmony. And there’s no point in trying to control a large horse – if they feel uncomfortable then they’ll just refuse to co-operate.
Tools to help see other perspectives
Being able to see, accept and nurture the styles of others is an essential skill but it’s hard to move outside the bubble of your own perspective. Many people need a bit of a push. That’s why it’s well-worth looking at ways to improve your leadership and the function of your team. This is especially important if you’re just coming out of lockdown and still reconnecting with your team.
The equine assisted learning (EAL) technique we use here has exercises which are all designed be completed in different ways. There is no right or wrong way and encourages individuality and creativity from all the teammates.
We begin with a MiRo psychometric test with each training course (these are also available as a standalone) to help us understand our own communication style and those of our teams. You can read more about the four main MiRo personality types here or read my thoughts on how they can promote harmony in your team.
However you go about it, understanding the perspective of others is a sure way to strengthen your leadership.
If you’re interested in learning more about our unique leadership training or our MiRo psychometric testing, please get in touch with me. Comment below or email email@example.com.