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Do You Manage With a 360-Degree Perspective?


What does “360 perspective” mean? People who primarily focus on the straight line between point A and point B operate in a narrow step-wise manner. They tend to be tactical and task-driven mechanics. They look straight ahead and are driven to achieve a superficial goal by getting from A to B as quickly as possible. The problem for these individuals (and we’ve all met them) is that they are oblivious to critical data. By operating in this manner, they cut themselves off from important information, miss golden opportunities and are doomed to sub-optimize their success. On the other hand, highly successful people and great leaders have an unusual physical and mental 360-degree radar that operates all the time. The adage about having “eyes in the back of your head” is very applicable to them.

So, how do they develop a 360-degree perspective? They do it by combining rich life experiences (from which deep learning occurred) with a sparse data set that quickly leads to an accurate conclusion. They actually “feel” their surroundings and can “see” people’s frame of mind. They trust their perspective and use it to shape their behavior, responses and strategy.

For example, they can walk into an important meeting they are about to lead and before starting immediately read each person’s state of mind. They see that two of their most influential team members are in a negative mood. On the fly, they add a few humorous comments in their opening to get the team members laughing and to lighten their mood. A highly task-oriented person may miss this opportunity and, as a result, fail to achieve their goal for the meeting.

Ask yourself if you focus on getting from point A to B by primarily managing the tasks on your “to do” list. If you do, recognize that competing and succeeding at work depends on the ability to monitor and adapt to environmental signals. This skill is not just important for current and aspiring executives—it is also important to mid- and frontline managers, sales people, customer service reps, HR, IT and marketing professionals, as well as consultants. As a result of this skill, they tend to be very savvy people who capitalize on many more opportunities than those who lack this skill.

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  • About The Author

    Kelly Ferguson

    Kelly has spent 25 years as an entrepreneur, sales and marketing leader, OD manager, senior OD consultant, program manager, leadership coach, process improvement facilitator, and strategic planner. In addition, she specializes in the development of visual management tools, systems and implementation. She has over 15 years in relationship-based sales (services and products) successfully closing and implementing large-scale projects at companies including Microsoft, Nike, Starbucks Coffee Co., Nordstrom, Standard Financial Group, Coinstar and REI. Kelly is known for her ability to combine solutions based on process, people, structure and systems. Her “OD approach” drives business results, employee engagement and ultimately a high-quality customer experience. As a leader, Kelly is recognized for her drive to grow companies from start-ups to large enterprises by focusing on top-line growth, the introduction of innovative products and services, sales and marketing, and ...Read Full
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