Kenneth Maddock: Managing Your Perspective

In my current position as a quality director, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can help our teams be more successful. I’ve served in many different roles over the years, ranging from technician to vice president. In each of those positions, I had a much different view of the world. What I’ve come to realize is that understanding how much of the world you actually can see has a big impact on your ability to be successful in your role.

A quote by Reinhold Niebuhr nicely summarizes how managing your perspective can help you to make better decisions:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

From a practical point of view, what does this mean? How do you understand where your focus should be? One way you can do this is to imagine your organization as an online map—your level of responsibility determines your level of zoom on the map. If you are a front-line employee, you are zoomed way in. You can see a great deal of detail for your area of responsibility, but there are many areas of the map that are off the screen. Those at the top of the organization are zoomed way out. They can see the entire organization, but not in a great deal of detail. These people can zoom in and see a great deal of detail, but if they remain zoomed in and focus too much on the detail, then the big picture they need to see remains off the screen.

Ideally, a leader would stay focused on the big picture but maintain an open communications pipeline so they can understand important elements of the detail. A front-line employee would focus on their area of responsibility but make sure that they are communicating important elements of detail to their manager. Each rung of the corporate ladder has a different level of zoom, and there should be an understanding of where they should focus their efforts based on that level of zoom.

Another important element of managing your perspective is that you will be in a better position to understand and accept decisions made by others. Sean Covey has a quote that I think applies very well to this situation:

“Seeing things from a different point of view can help us understand why other people act the way they do. We too often judge people without having all the facts.”

Many of us are guilty of this. While we typically can’t see things from the decision maker’s point of view because of a lack of information, at least understanding that there is a different point of view makes it easier to accept decisions that, based on your point of view, don’t make sense.

On the overall scale of things that may impact your ability to be successful, managing your perspective may not seem very important. But managing your perspective can go a long way towards improving your attitude and your focus. Without the right attitude and the proper focus, everything is more difficult, and frankly, not as much fun. Being successful takes much more than having technical and business skills. Walking in to work with a great attitude, focusing on the right things, and looking at your job as fun—and not a chore—allows you to better utilize your skills.

So, take some time to understand and manage your perspective, and I promise it will help you to better navigate your own career map.

Kenneth Maddock is quality director of healthcare technologies at Aramark. He is a member of the BI&T Editorial Board for AAMI and a former member of the AAMI Board of Directors.

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