Perspective, Who Needs It?

A friend told me a long time ago, perception is reality. Often our perceptions become shaped by what appears to be “facts” that some, mostly due to ego, are not willing to rescind.


Today your business may face the battle of technology and the best strategy of implementing it. Your perspective of it guides what you determine are the facts of its’ value and application. If you under or over value new technology you will influence the success or potential failure of your technology strategy and business results.

In 2011 Ricoh surveyed 567 executives, across a diverse range of cultures and enterprises, on their expectations of future technologies impact on business. Interestingly 37 per cent of these leaders believe that their businesses will not keep up and will lose their competitive edge, because technology is changing faster than they can learn.

The report goes on to say that, “One third of IT industry leaders believe their businesses will disappear altogether, while six out of ten survey respondents believe that many of the industries in which they operate will be significantly altered between now and 2020, bearing little similarity to today.”  

It appears that those who are unable to keep pace with technological change, and its’ impact on their business, may lose their competitive edge or even disappear by 2020.

How do those businesses whose very existence depends on keeping up with and even creating technological trends survive?

One example is IBM, who initiated a study to discover those within its’ ranks whose contributions had the greatest impact on their business’ innovation. They were looking for a mindset, work ethic, or an approach to life these leaders had.

From this study IBM developed a manual called “Extreme Blue”. The watchword within that document is humbition. Jane Harper, a veteran of IBM explains it as a subtle blend of humility and ambition—an antidote to the know-it-all hubris that affects so many leaders.

It appears from this study that humbition, best described as an attitude which says, “The more I know, the more I know there is to know” (Jane Harper), drives the most influential innovators in your business. Those leaders who are most effective exude a blend of humility and ambition which relies on learning from others and the power of persuasion.

The irony is that the intense personal will and ambition which often leads people to positions of power stands at odds with the humility required to become a great leader (or business).

Humble leaders are incredibly ambitious. However, humble leaders have a different perspective to ambition - they are ambitious first and foremost for the cause, the organisation, and the people. Their expression of ambition is to encourage and motivate others to excel, be creative and innovative to the benefit of the business, not themselves.

‘When authentic humility is applied to relationships mutual trust develops, creating an environment for people to achieve great things.’ Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Doty

A humble leader knows they don’t need to be the smartest person in the room. Nor do they need to defend their seat of power, make every decision, control every situation, identify every opportunity or solve every problem.

From a humble leaders perspective, they see their role as one of “fighter command”, where others ideas, inputs, and criticisms are concentrated and deciphered to identify any possible threat or advantage, and implement the change required to keep your business competitive.

It is this paradoxical blend of humility and ambition - humbition - that drives great leaders in their relentless resolve to learn fast, while encouraging others to excel, to be creative and innovative, that helps their business succeed.

That blend of personal humility and the personal will to make good on their ambition to see the business succeed, and their willingness to learn from others, humble leaders gain a different perspective that foresees the impact of technology. From this perspective they can implement the best strategy to help keep their business’ competitive edge.

William C. Taylor & Polly LaBarre., Mavericks At Work.

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Doty, US Army, and Dan Gerdes., Humility as a Leadership Attribute.

Paul T. P. Wong, Dr., A Im Glad I’m Nobody: A Positive Psychology Of Humility

Jim Collins., How The Mighty Fall.

Keith Ferrazzi., Mindset For Success.


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