Myopic Leadership

One of the big stories connected with the BP Oil Spill is the recent comments of one of the victims' brothers to BP CEO Tony Hayward.

Gordon Jones' brother Chris was one of the 11 people killed on the oil rig that exploded, triggering the massive oil spill that is threatening life as we know it on the gulf coast. On Sunday Tony Hayward, CEO of BP stated that he would "like [his] life back." Gordon Jones responded early this week by addressing Mr. Hayward saying, "I'd like my brother's life back."

Now, the easy angle in this story is to vilify Hayward. After all, his comments were insensitive and near-sighted.

It's harder to be a little more introspective. The truth is, all leaders pull against the tendency to define reality through their own experience. We all struggle to identify with the things others are feeling, experiencing, and struggling through. We tend to think everyone processes life like us, and that everyone is experiencing the same things we are experiencing.

As leaders, it's important to consider perspective from several different realities. Otherwise, we'll always lack the perspective we need to move forward. And we'll betray the selfish, myopic, insecure introspective bias that creeps up if it isn't intentionally and ruthlessly mortified.