The best leaders in business get comfortable with being uncomfortable. They know that what once worked for their business, may not always continue to work. People in an organization that cause the most damage are not the unproductive employee but the person in a leadership position who holds on dearly to the “way things used to be” and refuses to explore new ways of solving problems.
Albert Einstein once said, “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”
What are some practical ways to interrupt our daily decision making process and mix things up a little?
Here are three ways to get started.
- Ask for help from employees.Consider the two biggest challenges you are facing in your business right now. Maybe the challenges are around product or service delivery or even competition in technology. Enlist the help of a team of three or four people and ask them to make a recommendation to you for how they would solve the issue. This does a few things for you. First, it enables you to stretch your thinking and offer new insights you may have never considered. Second, it gives team members an opportunity to engage and become more invested in the solution. Do you have a problem in mind that you need to solve yet? Many leaders feel uncomfortable asking for help. It is also natural to feel uncomfortable considering out of the box solutions. In order to grow as a leader, you must consider both.
- Ground floor thinking- Ask “If I were to restart this business today, what things would be different?”Make a list and get to work determining why you feel this way and what can be done about it. You should do this even if you are not the owner of the business. Some questions you may consider are-Would you handle the pricing and packaging of your product differently? What can you do about that now? The best leaders look for ways to improve things constantly. Can it be exhausting, you bet. Is it rewarding? Absolutely- The future of the business depends on it.
- Ask Questions. Get Curious. Question everything all the time. Go to lunch with your employees, ask them how things are going and be open to hearing their responses. You may be surprised at what you learn. An opportunity may exist to improve an area in your business or offer additional support for an employee in need. You never know. Go meet with your top vendors and ask them how they are working with other companies. Is there an opportunity for an introduction or a best practice idea you aren’t aware of? Ask your clients what their plans are for the future. Maybe an opportunity exists for you to be a larger part of it. Could it feel awkward for the first 10 minutes of one of these meetings, especially if it is your first one? Sure. It will feel more comfortable as you go. Communication, trust and breakthrough ideas for your business are a result of this.
Unproductive employees usually never make it to the position where their impact can be so devastating; but leaders who fail to be adaptive can have a devastating impact. The best way to be adaptive is to push yourself constantly to question the status quo, stay aware of what is happening around you, and enlist the help of others. It is imperative that when you learn from doing these things, you can commit to change.
Consider what you could bring back to your partner groups in these coming months. You are sure to hear many good ideas that can empower your teams to lead and grow and coordinate everyone around common goals. Never underestimate the power of a great idea, whether you hear it at a session or from a connection you’ve made at a meeting. And never let a great idea get away from you because of failure to execute. You can start by writing down your action steps as soon as possible.