3 Lessons From Emerging Leaders On The Power of Differing Perspectives

Great leaders are those people that can view any situation through multiple lenses, and so find different perspectives that can yield different results. I’m sure many of you will be familiar with the three positions of perspective. This is an NLP phenomenon that, in essence, states that there at least three viewpoints through which you can look at any situation. The three perspectives are through the lenses of:

  • Self
  • The Other Person
  • The Observer

The perspective of self is naturally your own viewpoint. For example, you might think that designing a product to solve your book closing is not possible. From the other's perspective, they might believe it is absolutely possible; whilst the observer, who typically has no vested interest in the outcome, can see another viewpoint altogether.

Emerging Leaders

This is exactly the situation I found myself in recently as I was mentoring a group of high school students to create their own business and develop their entrepreneurial flair for a competition called Young Enterprise. When we started out, the students launched gung ho into the project, determined to create an amazing product without undertaking much market research. And big surprise: the first product idea they came up with failed.

However, looking at the project through a new lens, they sought to develop a product that would solve a real problem that they all faced. That was when Page Keep was born, because their biggest frustration was how to keep their textbooks open on the right page when they were studying. Most of the books kept shutting, wasting valuable time and energy as the students had to find the page again.

When they first shared the idea with me, I must confess to being somewhat skeptical — but I quickly realized that was my lens. I was being constrained by my past experiences. However, the students had no fear and, unconstrained by rules, assumed that anything is possible and achievable. So off they went to their Design and Technology Lab to experiment making prototypes. Yes, some failed — but eventually they came up with a great design that was really functional and based on their market research of what the other students wanted to buy.

However, what happened next really highlighted to me how narrow my lens of innovation had become. The students were not content with making their Page Keep from any old plastic.  No, if they were to make a product, it had to be environmentally friendly and sustainable. So with no prompting, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, they went and sourced the UK’s only supplier of recyclable plastic and persuaded them to permit them to have a just-in-time delivery schedule. Furthermore, they designed the product in an interlocking design so as to minimize wastage. How inspired is that?

There are the three lessons I have learnt from this emerging generation of leaders.

1. When things aren’t working out, stop and see if there is another solution. All too often in business we keep ploughing on with the same old strategies, which aren’t yielding the results we want, and we never think to try something new. The students rapidly realized their first product wasn’t viable and so created something new.

2. Often it is only a minor change in perspective and approach — in other words a pivot — that can catapult the situation to very different results. Through realizing they could personalize the Page Keeps, a whole new market and revenue stream opened up for them.

3. Once you have seen the situation through a different lens, then results accelerate as momentum drives you towards the goal. For the students, once they saw the initial success of their product, they were able to make incredible sales and the leverage this into selling workshops to teach other students what to do.

These emerging leaders are ambitious, enthusiastic, hardworking, and see endless possibilities around them. Maybe that is why they are such great ambassadors for saving our planet.

I’m curious: what inspiring lessons are you learning from our emerging leaders that are really forcing you to rethink the way you see the world and the lenses you are using to filter information?

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