Outsight is About Diversity: Four Ways To Grow Your Leadership
The concept of outsight, as differentiated from insight, is important. Anyone who leads (from the front or from the back) must have awareness. Self-awareness is the star.
But we don’t talk about cultural-awareness all that much.
Every Organization has a culture. Whether a one-person home office or a 500 person corporate office, there will be a culture. Leadership is always assessing, analyzing, and aware of their surroundings.
Many leaders are oblivious to the dynamic of culture. And that's dangerous for everyone: co-workers, customers, and clients.
I'm thinking about four ways I can do better with outsight.
Lead by Wandering
Curiosity kills cats. Ignorance kills fools. Leaders can't afford to be ignorant. So, a good leader wanders. She moves among her people, asking questions, making observations, taking temperatures. A culture is forming under our nose. A Decision, ignorant of culture, is an inevitable bad choice. Even if it’s correct in the technical sense of the term.
Lead by Asking Questions
Question asking is an art form - and it is an art form every leader must learn. When we fail to ask questions we become assumed know-it- alls. And arrogance is as deadly as ignorance when it comes to leadership. Ask a lot of questions, based out of your curiosity. As you wander and observe ask. Assess how people are feeling. Understand the thinking behind peoples actions. Practice asking great questions.
Lead by Listening
It's not enough to ask questions out of genuine curiosity. It's also necessary to listen. And to listen well. Listening means digging deeper with clarifying questions. Engage the people you find while wandering. Take analog notes. Listen for understanding and not politesse.
Lead by Diversifying Perspectives
Let the opinions of others shape your own. It's easy to become so obsessed with our own view of the world (of the business, of the organization, etc.) that we fail to see what's obvious to those around us. Outsight is not achieved in a vacuum. When we listen well to the people around us, we meet a balanced view of the world.
But don't only listen to the people you like.
Seek out people you find frustrating, grumpy, moody, intimidating and mean. Intentionally go through this process with them. Listen to learn, rather than listening for ammunition to bomb their opposing opinions. Seek people who are of a different race, gender, or political perspective. Diversifying our own perspective is the best way to gain insight into the current culture.
And to grow as a leader.
Outsight isn't always easy, especially for those who tend toward introspection. It requires social skills, networking, and people interaction. Outsight is a conduit for new points of view. From there, innovation is born, creating a culture of new ideas and fresh discussion.
And that is good for everyone.