What kind of perspective do you normally have as a leader? Do you see forests or do you see trees? Do you see trees or do you see leaves? Maybe you see the fruit that isn’t visible—a promise of things to come that aren’t yet seen. Are you a “big” picture leader or one who examines every detail?
A seminary professor reminded me this week that innovative leaders have various perspectives. We can view our decisions either through a kaleidoscope, a telescope, or a microscope. Each view gives a different perspective and one that should be valued when gathered as a team. Let’s consider the importance of each.
As a young girl, I remember being fascinated by the inexpensive kaleidoscopes you could press your eye against and turn the end of the tube to reveal brilliant colors, shapes, and never-ending possibilities. As a leader, I still love to think with a kaleidoscope perspective. Give me white boards, big post-it notes, colorful markers, and a room full of creative thinkers, and I’m in my element. I like to dream in Technicolor, think outside the box, and consider endless possibilities with limitless budgets. Every team needs kaleidoscope thinkers. If no one dreams the impossible, we would never see progress. I’m forever thankful for kaleidoscope leaders who invented machines to wash dishes and clothes and heat my leftovers in minutes.
We also need leaders on our team who have telescope perspective—those who see where the team needs to be from a distance. These team members want to consider the possibilities of what might happen in a year, five years, or even ten. They can focus on one bright idea that’s in the distance and consider how one reaches that goal. NASA astronauts in the 1960s not only used actual telescopes, but they had telescope vision. Their goal was to get a man on the moon. As John F. Kennedy challenged America, “We choose to go the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” He spurred our country’s thinking with telescope perspective. There was a distant goal with sharp focus.
Kaleidoscope thinkers and telescope thinkers get lots of accolades for their vision, but our teams must include leaders with microscope perspective. These are team members who examine details—details you can’t see with normal vision. Just like a scientist who can determine abnormal cells through the magnification of a microscope, these leaders are the ones who help you avoid pitfalls and many times keep you from failing. They ask hard questions and enjoy processes. For me, these are the financial analysts who sometimes hear my ideas and provide reality checks. They are the ones who help you execute vision. This is the realist who sometimes seems like a Debby Downer, but she just might be the superhero whose cape is hidden.
I believe the Psalmist saw the value of all three perspectives in Psalm 139. We are reminded God observes our ways, knows our hearts, and knits each of us as remarkable and wondrous image-bearers of His creation. So, no matter if you’re a kaleidoscope leader, a telescope leader, or a microscope leader, each is an important contributor to innovation and creativity. When your team includes all three, the results can be spectacular.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.