Perceiving is a creative act. When you own your creativity, you can perceive any person, situation, or repetitive pattern differently and in a way that opens new possibilities for the future. You can empower someone around you by helping them perceive a specific person or situation differently and in an empowering way. In this article, I will show you how viewing perceiving to be a creative act is more beneficial for you and people around you than viewing it as a passive one (simply seeing the world as it truly is). I will share different ways of perceiving people and situations and some of the benefits you and your company can experience from owning perceiving to be a creative act. I will also share a story.
Renowned business author Jim Collins wrote a book titled “Good to Great”. His book is about how good companies can become great ones. In his book, Jim utilizes a bus metaphor for his message. He asserts most good companies fail to become great because: 1) they have the wrong people on the bus; or 2) they have people sitting in the wrong seat on the bus. Being on the bus is a metaphor for working for the company. Being in the right seat is a metaphor for being in the right position. Jim asserts that most good companies could elevate their performance to become great ones by terminating some employees and moving others into positions where they are a good fit. Jim was effective in helping leaders who read his book to connect the pain associated with their failure to lead their company from good to great with their failure to terminate problem employees and move others into positions where they were a good fit. Jim considers his theory to be proven based upon extensive research conducted by his team of researchers. His book motivated business leaders who wanted to lead their company from good to great to take action.
I had a private conversation with an effective leader within our community after he had read “Good to Great”. He, like most leaders, views perceiving to be a passive act. He shared that he had recently thrown someone off the bus. It was a difficult decision. He had previously taken appropriate steps and was unsuccessful in resolving performance issues. Having read “Good to Great”, this leader was convinced that this employee did not belong on the bus. The research Jim and his team had conducted strengthened this leader’s perception that his decision was a valid one.
Because I know a lot of people, I happened to know the person who had been terminated. I reached out to connect with this person because I believed that I could help him disrupt a downward spiral. He was motivated to make positive changes. He participated in our company’s Leaders Ignite Program, six one-hour training modules over six months, to empower him and elevate his leadership skill to empower people. His training included coaching to help him perceive himself and his situation differently and in an empowering way. While participating in Leaders Ignite, he landed a job with more responsibilities than the one he had lost. He performed these responsibilities effectively. Today he is successful in a professional position with greater responsibilities than the one in which he failed to meet expectations.
I invite you to consider for a moment how many people were thrown off buses across the United States because leaders had read “Good to Great” and then identified those who were perceived to be holding their company back from greatness. Jim influenced leaders to perceive their organization through two lenses: 1) who did not belong on the bus; and 2) who was sitting in the wrong seat. Imagine how many thrown off buses could have succeeded if their leader had perceived the problem differently. How many leaders could have utilized and elevated their coaching skills while sufficiently improving their employees’ job performance? How much lost productivity associated with job terminations could have been saved? How many problem employees could have been perceived in an empowering way? The way in which you perceive an employee who reports to you influences their performance in either an empowering or disempowering way. Those deemed to possess talent are the beneficiaries of leaders who consider perceiving to be a passive act. Those deemed problematic are at risk of getting entangled in a downward spiral.
“Multipliers How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter” by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown provide a different way of looking at what is holding companies back from greatness. Their focus is on whether leaders have an empowering or disempowering impact upon people around them. They identify two different leadership styles. The multiplier style is empowering, amplifying the capabilities of people around them. The diminisher style is disempowering; draining intelligence, energy, and capability from those around them. According to Wiseman and McKeown, there are five disciplines, leadership skills and practices, that any interested leader can learn to become a multiplier. Instead of throwing people off the bus, Wiseman and McKeown might recommend first assessing the skills of their leaders and helping those who are diminishers to learn the five disciplines to amplify the capabilities of the people around them so that fewer people are thrown off of buses.
When you own perceiving to be a creative act, then you can reference the key ideas from “Good to Great”, “Multipliers”, other leadership books, and other resources in assessing which idea fits the situation and appears to be the most useful way to perceive it to achieve the results your company wants. You can unleash new possibilities for the future. You, your employees, clients, and your organization will experience expected and unexpected benefits from you owning perceiving to be a creative act.