According to some leadership experts, leaders can make a big change in their organizations by doing something relatively simple — reorienting the way they think about themselves and their relationships with other people.
This involves a shift in emphasis, from one that is more self-centered, to one that is more other-centered. Instead of focusing primarily on themselves and their goals, leaders need to look outward more and put themselves in the place of other people, to think about the needs of these people and how they can help fulfill those needs.
What happens when we focus predominantly on ourselves is that our view of the world becomes distorted. Our vision is simply filled with our needs, desires, and goals. This limits possibilities for change and can have a negative effect on our behavior and on our relationships.
According to these leadership experts, we need to move from this inward-focused attention to one that is more outward-focused. This outward-looking orientation involves changing how we think about other people. How we react to others has more to do with us than it does with them. But this outward focus puts the emphasis on other people and trying to meet their needs.
If you work with an outward focus, you do the following:
- You pay attention to the needs, goals, and challenges that other people have.
- You make changes in your own behavior so that you can be more helpful in meeting the needs of others. There is no formula for doing this. It is simply a matter of being aware and sensitive to people around you and responding in ways that are necessary to help them.
- You take responsibility for helping others. That means checking with other people to see if your efforts are indeed helping them or not and making changes if you find that you are not having the desired impact.
This, according to some, is what leadership is all about. It involves this change in viewpoint, a change in mindset, and a turning toward others with no expectation that they will reciprocate. When we go out of our way to put the needs of others first, we naturally expect that they would do the same for us. But this doesn’t always happen. And so becoming outward-focused, regardless of what others may do or not do in return, is often the biggest impediment to changing our mindset. But a true leader, nonetheless, does it all the same.
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