What You See Is What You Get


If you are a leader, how you view the world — consciously or unconsciously — not only impacts your own reality, but that of everyone in your organization. As noted by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” In effect, what you see is what you get.

That concept sounds rather simplistic, but it quickly becomes a bit more complicated as you start to drill into it a bit.

Do you see similarities or differences?

Most people see both to some degree — you try to differentiate your organization from others, at the same time you look for common ground with those with whom you hope to collaborate — however most people also have a natural tendency. What is yours, and in what ways does that impact the actions of your organization?

Do you see possibilities or pitfalls?

Are you a promoter or a protector? Heidi Grants identifies promoters as those who work to make good things happen, and preventers are those who try to keep bad things from happening. Again, most people have a bit of both — and organizations need both — but as a general rule, do you see opportunities or barriers? What does that mean for your organization?

Do you see yourself as firm or flexible?

Are you fixed in your view, your position on issues, or are you willing to hear other perspectives? Yes, it depends — both on the specific situation (are we talking core values, or approach) and where you sit on the continuum. For example, “firm” can be seen as strong, or rigid, or arrogant, or brave. An equal number of positive and negative adjectives can be attached to “flexible”. What is your natural inclination, and how does that influence those you lead?

None of these approaches is, on the surface, “more right or wrong” than the other, and yes, most people are influenced by the specifics of a given situation. At the same time, I’m guessing when you read each of the questions noted above, you could identify your predispositions fairly easily. That is important because 1) you need to decide if you will surround yourself with people who see the world as you do, or if you want those who will push back, and 2) what you focus on grows (intentionally or unintentionally!) Where is your focus, and that of your organization?

How you view a situation makes all the difference because it determines your next steps. What you see is what you get.

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