Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Vantage Points come and they go

Have you changed your Vantage Point today? The concept of Multiple Vantage Points... keeps appearing in my reading material. Like Leadership Without Easy Answers by Ronald Heifetz of the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. This is a great book (so far; I am on page 148 of 342). As my colleague Todd Canedy pointed out, "Many light bulbs came on." However, he failed to mention that like a Bill Dettmer book, this is anything but easy to read! My brain hurts after reading "Leadership" for just a few minutes. Normally I read a chapter a day, but today, I awoke shortly after 3AM. Yes, in the morning as in O'dark thirty! So I read two chapters. Heifetz was talking about the mixed views in society on page 35, when I first noticed his reference to "vantage points". I would suggest that it is more profound in business organizations. Like the Hammer and Nail analogy (when the only tool you own is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!), if you are in Customer Support and the business is losing market share (or worse), your vantage point suggests that paying more attention to the customer and their problems must be the answer to turning the business around. Wrong. But it is important. Until I could experience the challenges of a broken business from multiple orientations, I was not very effective. Heifetz dissected President Johnson's (LBJ) successful leadership on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and in doing so, alerted me to a phenomenon that had never occurred to me: LBJ authored no vision of his own in this matter. LBJ was so effective at seeing this emotionally charged (and historical) landmark legislation from all sides of the debate, he could effectively lead by refusing to take ownership. That is a gutsy move. One, that proved "up" to the challenge. That is not to say he took no action; he was quite deliberate in his actions. When might effective leadership at your company call for adapting "visionless leadership"? Not sure? Buy (and read) the book. Jeff 'SKI' Kinsey (c)Copyright 2009, Jeff 'SKI' Kinsey. All rights reserved.
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