The View From Your Seat!

08.20.13 | Posted in UnCommon Leadership

This year I’ll become a Diamond flyer on Delta. I have to wonder if that is a great thing or am I traveling too much! Whether it is or isn’t isn’t the point. While thinking about the international travel I’ll be doing the rest of this year (4 trips in 4 months), the concept of the view from the seat of a plane came to me in the context of leadership.

One of the major challenges I continue to see in the leadership consulting and executive coaching work that I do is that leaders have a distorted image of their “view from their seat.” Recently while doing a Birkman consultation with a senior leader of a company, we discussed their potential reaction under stress. From their view of the plane, that wasn’t them. No way did they react that way! I asked a few questions, but could see and hear the resolute stance that the particular trait didn’t describe them so I let it go. A few days later I received an email telling me that they had read some of the Birkman information to their spouse and when they got to the part that they weren’t in agreement with the spouse was ROTFLTAO! There it was – a different view of the plane gave credence to the information that the leader couldn’t see from their seat. This has happened over and over, time and again. We as people first and leaders second really don’t see ourselves as others do.

How many of you have experienced a relationship that worked without working at it? Most of us have, thank God. But, flip it. How many of us have worked with someone who immediately grates on our nerves? Again, most of us have. What’s the difference?

The difference is your differences in your style and approach to leadership first and foremost.

One of the foundations of the UnCommon Leadership approach is that we get really honest about who we are as a person and a leader first. Before you can be highly effective at leading others, do you really know who you are? Do you know your strengths, your gaps and your stress points? And here’s the real question that comes next – do you really understand how you impact others with your leadership style? Must of us don’t, and here’s the blunt truth – most of us don’t care how we impact others! You’re the boss and they have to adapt, right? That’s old school, directive, autocratic leadership and it’s time to flush it!

The next time you’re in a meeting with a group of people make an intentional commitment to be an observer of how others communicate and how it affects different people. Read their body language and their voice for emotions like happiness and anger. Don’t just perform how you usually do, but become a student of the relational dynamics that exist. I promise you will learn something deeper about the people you’re working with that will help you become an UnCommon Leader!

And, last but not least, how do you get a new view? Besides the Birkman Method assessment, just ask those around you to be honest with you about who you are as a leader and how you impact and work with them. The higher you are in an organization the more distorted the answers to that question might be, but try it anyway. If you’re authentic, open and honest and tell people you’re really committed to being the best leader you can be, you might just open the door to finding out very valuable information and establishing an even sronger bond with you and your team!

Onward & Upward!

Ed Chaffin

Leave a Reply