One of the biggest mistakes made by many in leadership positions is what I often consider as “leadership myopia.” Leadership myopia is the condition where someone only sees a situation from a very small and single sided perspective, often not acknowledging others’ points of view. We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.
When leaders ignore others’ points of view, including their matters, opinions, and needs, companies often suffer. Many leaders seem to mix the need to make decisions and take action on a timely basis, taking one-sided action without a meeting. Since no one individual ever has the complete answer, and firms are dependent upon the involvement of many volunteers, ignoring their concerns often has a negative impact. Some of the issues that often emerge because of seeing something from a cramped perspective include:
- Unilateral action often “turns off” a few people, who come to feel that no one is monitoring or acknowledging their concerns. While a leader should make his own ultimate decision, he should thoroughly listen to concerns of others and weigh both the right and the observed impact of that kind of action and behavior.
- Only seeing a situation from one viewpoint opens up the possibility, if not the probability, of damaging the organization. A leader must assess all ramifications of a problem. Only looking at a situation from his point of view opens up the genuine possibility that an essential component may be overlooked.
- Consider someone organizing an event that has his own personal wants and wishes and dislikes and likes. This individual may alter or change events to his perspective, and although while pleasing him, may very possibly “turn off” others. An organizer has to make sure that he does not “push” his dietary favorites upon others but creates something that would be universally enjoyed. Another example regarding events is that a leader/ organizer must pay particular attention to perceived value, which is how attendees might perceive certain components’ value. In my over two decades of management, I have seen many examples where a leader changes because of his own preferences or biases. He should have made those decisions by taking the larger view.
- Effective negotiating, an essential part of outstanding leadership, requires understanding others’ needs so that you know what to ask for and what others might be willing to be more or less flexible about.
There are so many examples in leadership situations where it is essential to be open-minded and open oneself to the thoughts, needs, and concerns of others. When someone in a leadership position permits his own biases and views to be “the only views,” it invariably creates misunderstanding and disconcerts.