The Leadership Multiverse by Mark Wager

The Leadership Multiverse by Mark Wager

Image courtesy of kromkrathog at






The Leadership Multiverse 

By Mark Wager

Imagine the setting, the manager of the office sits down with an employee and explains a task that needs to be done. Both parties walk away from the discussion fully understanding what needs to  done. The Manager confident in their ability to delegate a task. Now fast forward a few days and the Manager is berating the employee because the task wasn’t carried out to the instructions. Sounds familiar?

A couple walking out of a movie theatre sharing their views of the movie realising they have vastly different views not only about the quality of the movie but even what the movie was about. Sounds familiar?

It’s common for people to share an experience but come away with a vastly different understanding of what has occurred. Whether an office, a relationship these different perspectives happen on a daily basis and often end up in arguments. The truth is that while we all think we are sharing the same experience we are each of us in fact living in our reality, each one slightly different from the person next to us, each of us living in our own private universe.

When we experience something we make sense of it by using a mixture of our upbringing, beliefs, and experiences. It's  the same process that then produces an instant reaction to that experience. The understanding that each of us will have different upbringing, beliefs, and experiences that will allow us to not only appreciate why people see things differently but also allow us to adapt our behaviours and language so that our messages are understood. These are the essential qualities of every elite leader – self awareness and understanding others

Self awareness

We react to an experience in an instant, a fraction of a second this is called “pre-cognitive thought” It's  important to understand how this occurs as you will often find that your instant reaction is not the most effective reaction.  Think of the times that you may have reacted in a way that in hindsight you would have done differently. What happens is that you receive stimuli that is processed by your non-conscious mind and this non-conscious mind consists of many layers each of which is interpreting and debating how to react.  The best way to understand it is to think of it as your own personal parliament.

The cabinet

The inner circle of your non-conscious mind is the oldest, most authoritative and most secret voice in your non-conscious mind formed during your early years, usually during the ages of zero to six.  It is during this period that our natural defence mechanism begins to normalise all experiences. We hear things and experience things and we interpret them as normal behaviour. This has a major bearing on our self esteem and how we perceive love and kindness. If you tell an idiot time and time again that they are stupid they will likely dispute you and tell you where to go yet if you said the same thing to a four year old then they tend to accept what you are saying which later on creates self-esteem issues.

The front bench

In your sub-conscious parliament the next layer is your values and beliefs that have been formed during your life, your perception of right and wrong.

The back benchers

Next is your learned behaviour, the decisions you make today will be different to the decisions you made ten years ago, and hopefully the decisions you make in the future will be again be better informed and better decisions. We learn from our experiences we know what works well and what doesn’t and we adapt for the next time we have that experience.

The opposition

The final layer is a loud voice which is created by the social circle in which we find  ourselves, our colleagues, our friends and our families their behaviours their beliefs and more importantly how they perceive us, influence our behaviours and how we see ourselves. If in our friends private universe they perceive us to be a certain person then that perception influences us to either maintain or become the person they perceive us to be.

These many inner voices act like a parliament, debating and coming to a conclusion on how we react to a situation. To become a leader you need to be aware that this parliament of your non-conscious mind is not you. The universe that it creates for you to live in is not a reality that you have to abide by. You have the greatest gift of all, a gift that your non-conscious with all its power and influence will never have and that is the gift of choice.

We all live in our own perception of reality, our own personal pocket universe but as leaders we have the power of choice. We can chose how to react to a situation, we can chose how to relate information to people. We can chose to appreciate a different view, we can chose to not only be the type of leader we want to be but also chose to be the kind of person we always wanted to be.

How we perceive the world may be different to how other people may see it and that includes how we and other people perceive us. Try to look at the world and ourselves through other people's eyes, take a trip to their universe you don't have to agree with their perceptions but just acknowledge that they exist. All we have to do to never forget the key rule

Perception is reality.

About the Author:

Mark Wager is New Zealand's leading Leadership Coach, specialising in developing leaders and teams. If you want to know more about becomming an elite leader use the enquiry form below or contact Mark on Twitter


Posted: Monday 2 September 2013


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