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Leadership and the Worm's Eye View

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Being in leadership gives you a unique viewpoint, a "bird's eye view" of what's happening in your organization and with your team. It's this view point that gives you the objectivity and the wisdom to lead your team to places beyond their current position, and that's a good thing. However, being in this position almost always causes you to lose another valuable perspective: the worm's eye view. The worm's eye view is being able to see things from the perspective of those who are on the front line, those who are putting up with the dirt from rude customers or who are smoothing over problems that management just doesn't have the time to deal with.

When a leader has a clear and empathic understanding of both the bird's eye and the worm's eye view, they earn the respect of their team members and inspire them in a way that transcends their formal title or position as a leader. The problem is that even if you were previously in the same position as your team members, it's VERY easy to lose sight of that and become a leader who oppresses potential or fails to recognize accomplishment out of a lack of empathy and understanding.

Let's look at some ways to make the worm's eye view work in your favor…

Taking on the Worm's Eye View

Thankfully, there are some ways that you can maintain both perspectives and become a leader who inspires and who has the genuine respect and cooperation of your team members. When you have the worm's eye view, you also have a unique perspective which will help you to be more proactive in dealing with the challenges which your team members are having:

• Rub Shoulders With Your Team

Have you ever felt that there was a kind of "peer barrier" between you and your team members because of your position? This can be good when it comes to maintaining your authority and your posture as a leader. However, it also makes it VERY hard to be a part of the comradery which your teams uses to spur one another on and to support one another… you know what I'm talking about here don't you? So is there a way that you can have the best of both worlds?

Yes, you can do it by taking a small window of time each week to get down from your bird's eye view position and do what your team members do. Even if it's only a few hours a week, your team members will respect you as someone who has the guts to fight the same battle they are. This will also give you some insight into the challenges that your team members are facing on a daily basis.

• Give Your Team Members a Voice

How many times have you seen a company make the mistake of creating policies or procedures for their workers by consulting "experts" who have NEVER been in the worker's position themselves? It's no surprise that workers deeply resent this and feel devalued when their input is neglected for the sake of theories and ideals which are forced upon them. At best, this leads to mere compliance which is tainted by the worker's feeling of having their "voice" unheard and unvalued.

If you're interested in creating a new strategy or a policy for your workers, consult them and get their input. Value their input and let them know that their ideas are being more than just heard, they're being acted upon. This will skyrocket your team's respect for you and help you to get input that will give you the wisdom which can only come from the worm's eye view.

If you can think of any other ways to get the worm's eye view, start putting them into practice as soon as you can. Make this a habit and you'll be amazed at how quickly your influence grows as a leader.
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