Transformational Leadership: Develop Your Paradigm

   Perception—to become aware of, know, or identify by means of the senses

Perception—to become aware of, know, or identify by means of the senses

The paradigm we operate by in our work is that, on the basic level, we perceive the world around us through our senses—raw data—photons bouncing off objects, concussive waves traveling through the air, smelling, touching, and also other more subtle channels. Then we process the data mentally and emotionally. We create mental models to interpret the data; to give meaning and inform action. Our mental model is a constructed frame of reference into which the information goes and we interpret and assign meaning to what we perceived.

The construction materials come from our teachers—our fellow humans mostly—who have received their materials in their turn, and created their own constructions. In the mixture the ideas go back and forth and some form of agreement is made, the paradigm is in constant evolution for individuals, groups, tribes, organizations, cultures and societies in a dance of movement, resistance, assumption, disagreement, new ideas, old ones making resurgences, etc


Our personal mental model is our current best interpretation of what we consider Reality. The nature of perception is that we are compelled to construct this paradigm—an inventory of the combined elements of our worldview that acts as a set of filters and mirrors that determine what enters consciousness. There are each person's personal world views, which are in a subset of the family, tribal, cultural, and societal world views of the time.

Whatever its current version is, it is still ultimately wrong. Well, "wrong" is perhaps a little strong, but any "model" is a limited representation of the reality that it seeks to represent. I believe that it is useful to have this awareness that can create a detachment where our frame of reference is not doggedly held onto as "what it is", or "The Truth", but as a tool that is constantly under development—we're on version 12.6, and 13.0 is under development...

As children we are taught how to interpret our awareness; first being taught words and their meaning, and then the meaning behind the meaning. We learn that a dog is not merely any 4-legged animal, and that many different things qualify as "food". We learn what a smile means, and later, what it might hide.

Transformation is the evolution or revolution of an operating paradigm to one that is more encompassing of realities not allowed, considered, accounted for, or contained in the previous frame of reference. It generally occurs when we bump up against the limitations of our current frame of reference. Things are happening that we can't explain, or we see that we are consistently re-creating events and situations that we don't like because of the decisions we make.


In organizations it can be when a business goes from successful operations in a marketplace to hard times; not adjusting to changes, and hoping that doing more of what we have done before will bring back the good times. It is a business advantage to have a culture that accepts change as a norm of doing business, and despite all the effort that was put in to create what we have now, we know that we have to reinvent ourselves over and over again over time.

The information that is taken in and the way it is processed and interpreted—the frame of reference that we use—is today's lens, and the mental model and assumptions will be revisited either by intention and design, or by the forces of change in the marketplace and the world at large.