I recently spent some time in Washington D.C. and was inspired and moved by an exhibit at the Newseum featuring Pulitzer Prize Winning Photography. The images ranged from joyful to disturbing, each catching unique human emotion in each frame. I tried to imagine the lens each photographer had to use BEFORE using the camera to catch these moments and the unique skill each photographer had to see the moment before it happened. This challenged me to question the needs of the leadership lens.
The leadership lens needs to be transparent. People looking at leaders need to see through them. The leader's words and intentions need to be seen with integrity and honesty before a leader can move a person or organization forward.
The leadership lens needs to be mirrored...on both sides. A leader needs to be able to see themselves...to selfcheck in the mirror regularly, while also allowing others to see themselves within that leader. Words and actions are trumped by a deep connection between people.
The leadership lens needs to be both near and far sighted. The leader is challenged to see the 10,000 foot view while also needing to engage with the real time action on the ground. A myopic view won't allow for a complete understanding of need.
Finally, and most importantly, the leadership lens needs to see empathy. These images I digested reminded me of the dichotomy of the human life and spirit and how quickly our environment can change. The leader MUST evaluate, understand, and respond appropriately to the environment around them. The effective leader must adapt their message, adjust their expectations, in order to get that Pulitzer Prize winning moment. The empathy lens allows leaders to listen, embrace, weep, celebrate, and engage with their people.
The leadership lens is a complex, multifaceted lens. Leaders don't have time to change lenses to capture the moment. The leadership lens is built over time, adding skills and gifts until they become interchangeable and omnipresent. I look forward to continue to build our lenses together.
Thanks for stopping by. These are musings on how I see leadership in the world and how I continue to try and grow through my lens.