What Is This About?

This elegant technique – which I also call Stakeholdering – is about shifting our perspective and, in so doing, sit in other people’s chairs and see the world as they see it. By doing so, we foster empathy and compassion, recognizing that people have different perspectives based on what they see.

Imagine you are sitting at a boardroom table. Everyone has a different perspective. They are seeing different things. The invitation is to move around the table both physically and metaphorically.

How Does This Actually Work?

Let me illustrate with a brief example.

A high-level leader in a charity came to me with a suggestion that would have dramatically changed how she worked. It would have involved her embedding herself in another organisation for part of her working week. She felt it would have significant long-term benefits to the organisation by giving her a whole new skillset and perspectives.

She wanted to present the idea to the CEO so, as we explored the detail of what this would mean for the organisation, I asked her to imagine the conversation with the CEO and to play both sides.

  • What might her boss ask?
  • What concerns might she have?

Because of the highly strategic nature of her work, the Board would also need to be consulted.

  • What might they ask?
  • Specifically, what concerns might the Chairperson have?
  • What information might he ask for?

Imagining that the charity’s users had a chair at the table:

  • What concerns might they have?
  • What might they want to know?

What about other stakeholders:

  • Are there any other stakeholders who deserve a voice?

What Else Should Be Considered?

By simply putting ourselves in other people’s positions and considering their possible questions and concerns, we can a much more balanced sense for any proposal. There are obvious possible limitations to this approach as personal biases might prevent us from truly seeing from another’s perspective. Skillful guidance by a coach or mentor can thus enhance this technique, making it applicable across various contexts.

Questions in the Image:

  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • How might they view this decision?
  • What concerns might they have?
  • What might they want to know?

Nurturing Curiosity – Daily Practice: This is part of the Nurturing Curiosity series of tools, insights and questions designed to help nurture curiosity as part of our daily practice. In point of fact, every interaction we have is an opportunity to question what we are observing and how we and others are seeing the world. Also remember that questions come in many forms throughout our day. A friend coming to visit for a few days questions many of our daily routines and gives us an opportunity to reflect. What about the routines is tiring me? What routines are calling to me now?

What Thoughts Would You Like to Share? My name is Tom O’Leary, and I envision a world in which curiosity shapes leadership. In this world, leaders aren’t boxed in by traditional thinking or established playbooks. They are open to fresh ideas and diverse perspectives, fostering a culture of exploration and learning. My mission is to shift leadership focus from authority, over-measurement and control to curiosity, learning and innovation, empowering leaders to prioritise the essential. My journey, lived in a number of countries and through various languages, has always been driven by a profound sense of curiosity. In fact, life has taught me that possibility lies not so much in seeking answers but in learning to ask better questions – the ones that help prioritise what is truly essential. I welcome your thoughts, feedback, or personal experiences related to these questions or any insights they may have sparked.