A Leader’s Insightful Paragdigm Shift

February 27, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

What is this word, “Paradigm” and why are we reading about it in leadership books, especially as buzz phrases such as, “Paradigm Shift and Changing your Paradigm Thinking?” Webster’s Dictionary defines paradigms as a set of forms all of which contain a particular element, especially the set of all inflected forms based on a single stem or theme; a display in fixed arrangement of such a set and finally, an example serving as a model; pattern.

Confused? I sure was when I started hearing and reading about paradigms a few years ago in books and at training seminars. How do these meanings pertain to leadership? The definitions seem like scientific terms used by scientists.

One day it became very clear to me when I read Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Dr. Covey explains that a paradigm is our perception of reality, our view of the world. It is our interpretation of events based on previous teaching we have received. In essence, it is how we see the world through our own lenses. He continues by saying a paradigm shift means to have a sudden change in perception, a sudden change in point of view, of how you see things. How we view things and perceive things will dictate our behavior on how we react to those things.

Now it was starting to make sense to me: how two different people would behave totally different when they see the same thing. It’s how they perceive it to be true.

So what does paradigm thinking and shifting have to do with leadership? Answer the following two questions: “What are your fellow workers perceptions of you as a leader and what are your perceptions of yourself as a leader?

For the majority of us, I contend that how you see yourself as a leader and how others’ see you as a leader will be an eye-opening experience. And remember how you perceive things dictates your behavior? Well the same holds true of those you lead. Having difficulty in your organization just getting simple things completed? Is there more tension than cooperation between you and your workers’? Is there high absenteeism? Do you feel that you just can’t get through to them? And finally, could the problems be about you instead of the ones you lead?

The only way to discover if the concerns might be about you is for you to change your paradigm thinking and start looking within yourself: how you lead, instead of perceiving that the problems lie with the ones you lead. Paradigm shifting and changing happens when you put yourself into others’ shoes and see the way they see things, not how you see them.

Years ago, my thinking was that leadership meant telling people what they can or cannot do and punishing them when they failed. Leadership meant having power and status. Leadership was about getting ahead of the rest. Leadership meant to control everything, you know, micromanaging. Then I had a paradigm shift, (even though I didn’t know what this meant.) After reading Dr. Covey’s book, my perception of a leader changed. Now, to me leadership means someone who has vision. A leader is a mentor, helping to guide the ones they lead to be creative and be their own problem solvers. A leader is able to establish a team that embraces the leader’s vision. A leader allows mistakes to be made, creating learning opportunities to discover how to avoid making those same mistakes. A leader praises and gives recognition. A leader helps others to build self-esteem and confidence. A leader builds trust. Leadership is growth in a positive direction. I learned to put myself in others’ shoes, to understand what they are seeing and how they perceive things. By putting myself in my fellow workers shoes, I was able to earn their respect and not demand it.

Starting to change your paradigm thinking will take practice on the leader’s part. The first step is to see how you perceive yourself as a leader and second, ask everyone you lead how they perceive you as a leader. Be honest with yourself and look at it as a road to recovery for you and your organization. If turmoil and suspicion are present within your organization, be prepared to realize it’s because of your leadership and be prepared to make the necessary changes. By doing so, everyone will have a paradigm shift on how they see you as a leader.

My expertise consists of a degree in business management, over 20 years of corporate managerial experience, and an entire adult life of community volunteerism and leadership. I started my part time business Kenny A. Enterprises in July of 2010 for the sole purpose of helping others to become better than who they already are so they can show others how to do the same. I do not claim to know everything, in fact I give 100% of myself to life long learning. What I do claim is that knowledge will always be there for me to receive if I choose to seek it and that is why I believe that the journey will always be the reward. My involvement began in leadership training more than 3 years ago with teens and young adults to teach as well as coach leadership and team building training for local high schools and colleges as well as for different non-profit organizations. My Business was also established and designed to support business-minded individuals with communication skills that are necessary to produce great leadership. My business offers a leadership/management and team building curriculum for both personnel and management in both the profit and non-profit business world, as well as programs for high school students and young adults.

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