Having worked with owners and executives in a myriad of organizations, I can count a handful of reasons why their businesses never reach full potential.
One of those reasons is the lost art of how to think.
We live in a heads-down, always-on, media-run society that wants to suck us into the middle of the proverbial “box”, away from the edges where change and growth happen. In our businesses, we are buried in daily pressures, demands and politics that suck the life of out of us and the people we lead.
Slowly, we become lulled into the bad habit of reacting. We start waiting for things to happen as opposed to making things happen. We wait for doors to open instead of ripping them down. We wait until the edges of the box disappear instead of changing the shape altogether.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to challenge your team with never-ending, ‘raise-the-bar’ performance standards. Perhaps even more significant, make it your personal obligation to stretch the thinking of each person on your immediate team.
Specifically, are the people you lead able to think differently, bigger, bolder and more often than they did when they started working for you?
Not only is this an opportunity for you to differentiate yourself as a leader, but a way to drive growth, loyalty and trust in the people you lead. A rare feat in today’s corporate America that is a musical chairs dance of performers focused on the next position, as opposed to an all-out chase – after potential.
Thus, here are three, not-so-common ideas for stretching yourself and your team during the month of August:
Take Your Team OUTDOORS
What was once a source of creative inspiration and fresh perspective has come indoors to screens that inform, shape, influence and ultimately, confine us. Just watch this video and you’ll see what I mean. Eye-opening, scary and disconcerting to say the least.
It’s time to get outdoors for some fresh air. Use the month of August to arrange an afternoon on canoes, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks or even a hike – not only will you build connection within the team, but the outdoors gets you out of the weeds, out from distraction and the influence of our screens to think. Yes, “think” – as individuals, leaders and teams.
Take Your Team to See ANTMAN
Skip the Friday lunch and get popcorn instead. Take everyone on your team to see Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas in ANTMAN. Yes, I am serious! Not only will you enjoy the cutting-edge special effects and quick-witted humor of Paul Rudd throughout, but you will appreciate the creativity Marvel Entertainment depicts through the ANTMAN character, living in a ‘bigger-than-life’ world.
The idea of shrinking or ‘becoming small’ can open new perspective and vision for alternative or different ways to achieve a particular goal. There are numerous examples throughout the film where the ability to become small is an asset for ANTMAN as he leads his squadron of ants on several missions (I won’t ruin it for you!).
Counterintuitively, often success in the workplace and “thinking bigger” means actually “getting smaller”. With a different vantage point, sometimes the unobvious doors, paths, or routes to new solutions reveal themselves. Sometimes we need to shrink to grow.
Take Your Team on a FIELD TRIP
Since when did we stop taking field trips? Elementary school? Bring the idea to the corporate environment. Find a non-competitive, non-overlapping industry organization who might be faced with similar challenges as you and your team are currently experiencing. Perhaps a manufacturing issue, a product development hurdle or challenges in attracting the right talent – these are universal struggles for virtually any company in any industry. Partner your teams in a white board session to discuss specific ideas and solutions to the different problems. You’ll be amazed by the exchange as well as the quality and freshness of ideas.
I challenge you to try one or all three of these ideas to push the edges of the box during the month of August.
Commonly, all three seek to remove the team from the suffocating pressure of the day-to-day environment in order to “think”. An amazingly simple formula that can be used by anyone to think outside the box, isn’t it?
Be careful – you might just stretch the thinking and the overall growth trajectory of the people you lead.
So, ….what shape will your box be?
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