Harness The Power Of Visual Thinking

with Todd Cherches


Todd Cherches is the CEO and co-founder of BigBlueGumball, an innovative New York City-based leadership development and executive coaching firm. He’s also a member of Marshall Goldsmith’s 100 coaches and is the founding partner of the Global Institute for Thought Leadership. Todd was recently nominated by Thinkers50 and is a three-time award-winning adjunct professor of leadership at NYU and Columbia University. His TEDx Talk speaks to the power of visual thinking, a perfect complement to his new book, Visual Leadership.

The Power of Visuals

As a young lad, Todd wanted to be Superman. But instead, he started his career by tallying up a Guinness Book of World Records number of experiences working for terribly bad bosses. Todd’s time working in television taught him two things: visual storytelling is powerful and too many leaders don’t know how to communicate well. Thus began his journey into studying visual imagery and language as a way to communicate effectively in leadership roles.

Visual Communication

Most business people communicate and focus on words and numbers.The leaders who communicate effectively, however, tend to be excellent storytellers. Visual imagery is effective in communication because it increases attention, comprehension and retention.

In his book Visual Leadership, Todd highlights the importance of four main components:

Visual imagery

Mental models

Metaphor analogy

Storytelling and humor

When you use these components interchangeably and in combination, it’s much more clear and engaging. The overall goal of communication is to get people to see what you’re saying, and visuals are a key part of that equation.

Through a Different Lens

One of Todd’s biggest takeaways from studying visual leadership is the concept of perspective. Everyone is experiencing what’s happening now- from new work-from-home situations to the pandemic in general- through a different lens. Leaders need to be able to look at different situations with empathy and compassion, through the lens of other people.

No one in the world sees things through exactly the same lens that you do. Our paradigms, our life experiences, our assumptions, and biases all filter out some things and let other things in. So we need to realize our lens is not the lens. The biggest challenge for leaders right now is to be able to look at things from multiple perspectives. There’s no one size fits all solution.

By channeling curiosity and flexibility of perspective, we can begin to give attention to what has been lacking in the past in order to move forward better for everyone in the future.

Moving Forward Well

Though we have all learned several things over the last few years, Todd says the main leadership lesson for 2022 and beyond is to look forward. We can’t, and should not, aim to go back to how things were in 2019. Rather, the emphasis should be on changing the things that can be done better.

With this in mind, be prepared for everything to be a negotiation. There is a better way of accommodating everyone and in the current talent wars, the leaders willing to consider a different lens will find greater success. After all, in this world of virtual work, we’re no longer bound by the constraints of local talent alone. People will go where it fits best for them, so do your best to understand what they need, and how you can help.

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