I was reminded how important it is to lead in 3D. Here’s what I'm getting at. One of the benefits of having two eyes is that we can perceive depth. Especially when objects are in motion, our brains integrate perspective from each eye resulting in the full, three-dimensional image.
When making decisions as a leader, it is vital to have the sort of 3D vision that results from various perspectives.
For example, on today’s call we were talking about building a finance team for a college. In my experience, I’ve benefited from the productive tension that comes from a finance officer who usually saw the big picture paired with a finance officer who focused on the details (the roles are often titled CFO and Comptroller). The CFO gets it when it comes to the business, can communicate with stakeholders, and can speak into decision making from a finance perspective; the Comptroller knows the spreadsheets backwards and forwards, can generate detailed reports that anticipate and answer crucial questions, and can speak into decision making from budget and accounting perspectives. When the perspectives are well integrated, the institution can hit fiscal fastballs.
The same sort of thing happens all the time in my partnership with my wife Laurie. I tend to see things in terms of systems over time; Laurie tends to see things in terms of relationships in the present. When we are making decisions in the context of our family or our Church (we serve as pastors together) the productive tension results in a more 3D vision of the problems and solutions.
It seems to me that a lot of leaders are intent on leading with one eye shut. We fail to be able to lead in 3D when we:
- Build teams without diverse perspectives, mistaking uniformity for unity (I blogged on this recently).
- Only reward agreement and/or punish disagreement (the lesson of The Emperor’s New Clothes).
- Rush or make unnecessarily quick decisions that limits input.
- Otherwise isolate decision making.