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A Blog by Art Dykstra


From My Pad to Yours is about leadership and other topics, and is written by Art Dykstra, Director of the Trinity Consulting Group.

A Leader’s Field of Vision

by Art Dykstra | Nov 08, 2017

Just as seeing straight ahead is important to navigating city streets or country roads successfully, so noticing what is in front of us is vital to our leadership pursuits. The ability to focus consistently on relevant information enables a leader to complete transactions efficiently and make progress toward desired goals.

For instance, a manager observes an audience's response or registers the im­pact of a fellow employee's words, and acts accordingly. In more complex mat­ters, she employs this frontal perspective in assessing opportunities, risks and threats. She collects the data critical to the issue at hand and draws appropriate conclusions. Her ability to see what immediately faces her is essential to growth and development.

Not surprisingly, some individuals in leadership positions seem to be trapped by what is “straight ahead.” They suf­fer from managerial tunnel vision. Their narrowed focus probably did not result from a blow to the head as might be expected among boxers, hockey players or football players. However, a traumatic experience or a severe blow to the ego or other environmental circumstances may contribute to the “visual” disorder. Whatever the cause, followers unfortunately often re­flect the consequences of their manager’s or leader’s shortcoming.

Clearly, breadth of vision is also a necessity. Point guards in professional basketball, for example, have an amaz­ing ability to see the entire playing court. As a result, they take in more of the action, locate each player, and notice whether a teammate is "tied up" or free to take a shot. They see what is happening all around them without turning their heads.

The same breadth of vision enhances a leader’s performance. While he must be able to see ahead clearly, he must also have developed the ability to see the periphery. And peripheral elements are always changing. Seeing to the sides while looking for­ward allows leaders to take in more of the action. They can “observe” what is said as well as what isn't, or notice the reactions of an entire group as well as one participant's response. They see which employees can shoulder more re­sponsibility and which are out of position. They notice movement within the entire workforce, not just among immediate subordinates.

In an interesting way, good periph­eral vision allows leaders to better per­ceive what is actually occurring in front of them.

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