The three lenses successful leaders use to balance trust and performance

It’s always useful when someone else does the hard work for you. Wilber et al looked to excellence in leadership and put this together with current leadership thinking and discovered that stand out leaders scan their leadership terrain through three lenses, and the very finest leadership is underpinned by healthy balance of all three. This simple finding is proving really impactful with our clients and we thought we would share it further. The three lenses are:

  1. I (that’s you), looking at your values, mindsets and habits that you collect through your life that automatically drive you and might not all be serving you well now,
  2. WE (that’s you and others and how we choose to play our part in this, to act or not, our ways of working)
  3. IT (the task, the project the deliverable)

The three lenses are common sense really, they are about being smart and making the most of your strengths and the resources around you and about bringing your whole self to your leadership game of understanding the part you play as well as others around you. (See picture above.)

The balance of the I WE and IT draws on all resources as it brings together the positivist views of the West and blends these with the more reflective and mindful ways of the East. Leadership success – and its development – is framed as a direct reflection of the balance of both deep self awareness and, the ability to scan your external environment. What goes on in my head (my intention) and how I behave (impact).

Leaders who work with I, WE, IT lenses increase their self-awareness bringing greater ability to:

  • Step into the ability to take a broader perspective and take decisions for wider time-spans, influencing more of the business, employee base, competitors, and society. Warning – If a leader’s stage of awareness is not aligned with the challenges they face, they can potentially be in over their heads.
  • Enjoy greater development stretch as vertical development is possible with the I WE IT model. Capacity shifts from current mindsets to wider more expanded perspectives capable of taking and reaching further complexity and holding of multi-faceted possibilities.  To be able to stand back from current mindsets and patterns to move towards interpersonal mastery.

Do you have a balance? Early signs of this imbalance are often a lowering of trust, less energy about what the organisation is aiming for, unspoken frustrations. In short, if we forget the I and the WE, we end up with sub-optimal teams and performance. It might not look like a crisis, but it’s a slow drain with loss competitive opportunity and employee engagement.

You don’t need a programme to use this model. Using this three lens model could be as simple as a question to yourself “what have I been focusing on recently”, and “how can I get a better balance?”. Working alone, or with a coach and clients ask us to run large programmes to help re-balance and develop the skills for three lens vision.

We are always happy to talk about the three lenses. Please contact us here if you want to know more.

Written by:
Matt Burdock

Executive Coaching, Culture Measurement, Leadership Development.

July 21, 2020