Dragonflies have remarkable eyes! 

Those eyes can see 360 degrees; perceive colours not visible to other species such as humans; detect the plane of polarized light which knowledge they can use as a compass; and provide acute sensitivity to movement which serves as a self-preservation measure.

It is a wonderful metaphor for full spectrum leadership – which is about achieving better results and making better decisions by looking in all directions rather than through a narrow focus.

Effective leaders need hindsight as well as foresight to make good decisions. Hindsight is essential in order to understand and learn the lessons the past offers us. While foresight is essential in order to strategically prepare for the future.

Effective leaders also need both insight and outsight. Insight results from directing attention inwards such as analysing ones internal state for self-awareness; or in the case of an organisation examining internal practices or organisational culture. Outsight results from directing attention outwards to understand the external environmental, the customer perspective and big-picture forces and trends. 

When we combine these multiple perspectives we achieve full spectrum leadership which is the skill of looking in all directions as explained by this model.

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Reflection occurs when we combine insight with hindsight. It enables leaders to learn from experience by deliberately analysing thought processes and decisions and their outcomes. Reflective practice:

  • Is the cornerstone of professional skill development
  • Enables leaders to learn from mistakes , failures and successes
  • Helps to recruit tacit knowledge
  • Facilitates emotional intelligence
  • Enables us to be our own coach, mentor and teacher.


Indication occurs when we engage hindsight and outsight. That’s looking back and looking out. The past will INDICATE what to expect in the present.

Analyzing what has happened in the PAST in the EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT provides us with good data and evidence about what is likely to happen in the present and why the current situation exists. It affords:

  • Thorough root cause analysis
  • Knowledge for effective intervention / change / innovation strategy
  • Clarity (are we solving the right problem?).


Prediction is possible when we combine insight and foresight. It is a combination of a deep understanding of a situation with the strategic thinking that comes from looking forward.

Effective leaders use this knowledge and understanding to:

  • Interpret and read the signs within a situation in order to think strategically about how they will unfold over time.
  • Connect the dots to make sense of/reveal the image that otherwise looks like a messy jumble. 

It’s how an expert chess player can see how the game will play out several moves ahead.


Envisionation occurs when we combine outsight with foresight. It is the skill of being able to:

  • Look ahead of the curve, pay attention to what’s happening in an industry, sector and the world in general
  • Spot trends, make sense of them and use that information like a compass to inform decisions that will shape the future of your organisation or career.

Leaders in disrupted companies lacked this skill. It’s natural human tendency to want to delay action till others have gone ahead and paved the way. But there is a huge advantage that comes to those that spot trends early and act on that knowledge thereby being able to shape their future rather than being reactive.


Let’s come back to the question at the very beginning of this blog. Are you comfortable operating in all quadrants? Doing so helps us to be better thinkers, innovators, decision makers, adaptors, problem-solvers and leaders.

Developing dragonfly vision is one of the skills we learn in my Leading in the Innovation Age Program. Email me to find out more.

Until next time,

Dr. Irena Yashin-Shaw


E: irena@direnayashinshaw.com

M: +61 411 330 301

P: +61 7 3849 5003

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