Building relationship is the foundation for transformational leadership, especially during a culture change.

However, surprising research shows that if you are in a leadership role, you may be at a disadvantage in one key aspect of relationship building.

This key is the capacity to take another’s perspective, and it is what opens the door to establishing productive, creative partnerships with your colleagues, and building alignment. Research has shown that anyone who has been given power (even a modest amount) is less likely to really see and hear someone else’s point of view.

The success of transformational leadership during a culture change depends upon developing and expanding this capacity for perspective taking.

What does it mean to take another’s perspective when faced with the new and complex challenges in today’s workplace?

Here are three questions that can give both insight and access to taking another’s perspective:

  • How do I see and interpret what is going on in the situation?
  • Am I looking exclusively from my point of view and beliefs?
  • Am I able to step outside my own experience and point of view to really hear and get the perceptions, motivations, and feelings of another?

Strengthening this orientation around hearing and being in touch with your colleagues’ concerns and perspectives pays off royally in both quality and productivity during a culture change.

Transformational leadership is emerging in many organizations and embracing this kind of approach.

One example is Faurecia, a world leader in auto parts manufacturing. They are transforming their top down management approach through empowerment, listening, and taking others perspectives. Their commitment to this empowerment is paying off.

As part of Faurecia’s culture change work they launched a new initiative called “Being Faurecia.” With the number of employees doubling in only a few years, the organization was finding itself strained by their strong top-down management style. As a result, local managers were not feeling accountable and decisions were passed up the chain.

By really listening and understanding their manager’s perspectives, Faurecia is transforming their management style by moving to a “decentralized” structure; employees are now responsible not only for their targets, but also the ways in which they are realized.

Patrick Koller, Executive VP of the Automotive Seating Business Group says, “ We are trying to…reduce the complexity of our organization wherever possible and make people autonomous and accountable…. We want our managers to behave as entrepreneurs.”(Insigniam Quarterly, Fall 2014).

A new generation of seat mechanisms came on the market within four years, this, Koller says, “is short.” Each year millions of units are produced. Along with expanded production they are attending to quality. “The seat mechanism is a key element in safety, so we can’t take any short cuts,” Koller adds.

What breakthrough in results are you aware of where taking other’s perspectives was a key? Where can you implement this in your work?


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