4 Essential Fundamentals: Vision, Sense Making, Perspective Taking, Agreement Making

Khali Young

Khali Young

Khali Young

Author

Intro

In this blog, we'll dive into key leadership fundamentals including vision, sense making, perspective taking, and agreement making. I find these fundamentals of leadership often lacking in organisations. Doing these things well makes a big difference in your leadership. Let's unpack these essentials one by one, shedding light on their significance in effective leadership.

1. Vision (& Values)

Leadership hinges on vision. Without it, workplaces can feel directionless and uninspired. Lack of a shared vision stifles collaboration and motivation. Picture this: a compelling vision is like a beacon guiding us towards a brighter future, one we can vividly imagine, smell, and taste. Take the audacious goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade—an example of a vision that propelled humanity forward.

But here's the rub: too often, workplaces lack a culture of visioning, resulting in a dull and uninspiring atmosphere. It's crucial to also infuse values into our vision, outlining not just what we aim to achieve but also how and why. Values like integrity and excellence should be woven into the fabric of our vision, aligning with Simon Sinek's golden circle—clarifying the purpose, process, and product.

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To infuse vision into your work:

  • Imagine yourself as the leader of your organisation—what inspiring vision would you create?

  • Connect with your personal vision at work—what makes your role meaningful to you?

  • Share what's important to you with your team—inspire them with your passion and purpose.

2. Sense Making

Leadership involves making sense of complex realities. Understanding cause and effect is pivotal in shaping our vision and strategy. Yet, in today's information age, navigating complexity can feel like groping in the dark. Humility becomes essential; acknowledging the vast unknowns and embracing inquiry over certainty.

However, most organizations reward answers over questions, stifling genuine curiosity. Good sense-making requires keen observation, data analysis, and the courage to admit uncertainty. In complex contexts, hypotheses serve as guideposts, allowing us to navigate uncertainty iteratively. Without this, we risk getting lost in sense-making paralysis.

To improve your sense-making skills:

  • Challenge your assumptions and ask yourself tough questions.

  • Conduct simple experiments or gather more data to test your hypotheses.

3. Perspective Taking (Empathy)

Empathy lies at the heart of effective leadership. Yet, truly understanding others' perspectives is easier said than done. Assumptions often cloud our judgment, leading to misunderstandings and conflicts. Consider Tom's assumption that Emma's suggestion for an extended timeline stems from laziness, overlooking her concern for quality.

To bridge this gap, active listening and genuine curiosity are paramount. By mirroring non-verbals and seeking clarification, we can unearth the underlying motivations driving others' perspectives. This empathetic approach lays the groundwork for fruitful collaborations and win-win negotiations.


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To practice perspective-taking:

  • Be present and truly listen to others without judgment.

  • Ask for examples or suggest scenarios to understand abstract concepts better.

4. Agreement Making

Successful execution hinges on clear and negotiated agreements. Concrete commitments, tracked diligently, foster accountability and trust. Yet, too often, vague or coerced agreements breed resentment and inefficiency. It's crucial to create space for negotiation, allowing room for genuine collaboration.

Moreover, a culture of accountability is essential. Holding ourselves and others to agreed-upon standards ensures timely delivery and fosters a culture of excellence. By embracing accountability, we pave the way for successful execution and meaningful progress.

To enhance your agreement-making skills:

  • Double-check with your team members if they want to negotiate any aspects of the agreement.

  • Ensure agreements are clear-cut, leaving no room for ambiguity.

  • Hold yourself and others accountable for meeting agreed-upon standards, fostering a culture of excellence and execution.

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Here is a video in which I talk to these same skills, with some slightly different framing:

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