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Lead with Integrity: Is What You See Really What You Get?

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Ethics Matters

Q1 2023

A series of events lately have brought to mind that what we see is not always what we get. You may be wondering what I mean by this. While this cliché is commonly true, I want to challenge your thinking today. I believe what we see is NOT always what we get. In fact, two people can “see” the same person, place or thing and “get” two different interpretations of what they have just seen. As ethical leaders, we cannot afford to draw conclusions about people we lead, because our initial sights and thoughts may not be reality.

We must understand that we see things through our personal lenses formed from our experiences, beliefs and opinions. Yes, because of my background, I subconsciously formulate ideals sometimes before or as soon as I see things, and so do you. Therefore, it is easy to pass judgement too early on people we lead. For example, because I am bald and have a gray beard, one may consider me to be an experienced professional when I wear a suit.  However, on weekends I often wear athletic wear, because of my exercise schedule and the comfort of athletic clothing. When I am dressed in this more casual attire, people often draw less than favorable conclusions about me. Is what they see really what they get? I say not.

As leaders, how can we be aware of our lenses and how they affect our perceptions of people we lead? First, we must acknowledge that we have the lenses and try to see things without the filter of the lenses. Naturally, we will begin with the view coming from the lenses, but we do not have to stay within that view. After acknowledging our filtered, natural view, we can and should be intentional about changing our perspective to see the issue outside of our lenses. This approach will often help us to gain a better understanding of the total circumstance and to lead to better results.

It is not always easy to look outside of our lenses. It takes humility and effort, two characteristics of ethical leaders. If we humble ourselves and make the effort to look through different lenses, we will see that we often limit ourselves and our ability to be the best leaders we can be. When we only consider our initial thoughts through the first lens, we don’t reach the best possible solutions. 

Give yourself additional views. It will make you a better leader with a broader perspective and understanding of how to get the best from others.

As always: Lead with Integrity.