One of the most revealing ways of identifying someone who can influence beyond their level of authority and control (which is a simple, but effective definition of leadership) is to really listen for the person’s point of view. How often (and perceptively) do you hear them talk about their industry’s future, what the change dynamics facing their customers really are? How will their own role need to evolve to stay relevant? How will technology change their value chain? How will the new macro-economic environment evolve? Etc. etc.
Recently we’ve been working with an organisation that asked us to unpack the Point of View issue and turn it into something that their managers could develop for themselves. A word of caution, we found two issues that demonstrate an anti point of view, ways of behaving that masquerade as a point of view but in fact demonstrate the opposite:
- Having strong opinions about what won’t happen, what won’t work and what people are mistakenly focusing on. This is saying rather than envisioning the future.
- Having fixed views that don’t change. A Point of View is about passion and belief, but it’s not about dogmatism.
We found a strong correlation between having a coherent point of view and being someone others listened to as well. The person was influential, often beyond his or her own functional area and several levels higher up the hierarchy than their formal position warranted.
They were viewed as being interesting, ‘go to’ people who really know stuff, but equally they are not intimidated by not knowing stuff. Their learning curve constantly sits at a steep angle. This of course makes them interesting and valuable to clients as well. We found if these people were market facing their impact was significant. A point of view is not only good for the quality of conversation; it’s also very good for business.
The culmination of our work was the development of a point of view workshop that showed people the requirements of how to develop this (we believe) critical capability.