In this latest article and podcast, we are going to focus on the 7th skill from my ‘Think See Do’ Leadership model.
Specifically, how you ‘Think’ about your ‘Organisation’.
In this article I am going to get you to stop and shift from ‘on the job’ thinking to become more strategic and creative. And YES we can all improve in both of those areas!
This is covered in more depth in my latest ‘Leadership Mindset – Think, See, Do’ podcast episode.
As a leader you no doubt feel you are spending way too much time with your head down, just trying to get things done and put out fires! You may also doubt your ability to think more strategically and creatively. But this is not the case. It is more about finding the space and tools to do both.
I’m going to give you some ideas on how to introduce more of both of these aspects in your role as a leader and encourage you to take time to listen to the more in-depth podcast too.
A) Strategic Thinking
As leaders and human beings, we are continually thinking. Most of this is negative, doubtful or pointless. I cover this elsewhere. Being a more conscious leader means finding space and time to think in different and bigger ways. Not just reacting to problems but shifting to a more proactive and strategic approach.
Strategic VS Tactical
Strategy can sound a formidable word, but put simply it is about moving from tactical thinking to bigger picture thinking.
Rather than modifying a process or system, it is about looking at how a new process or system could be put in place to improve efficiency. Rather than simply replacing a person you have lost, looking at how the structure of the team or organisation as a whole could be revamped to get more out of your people. You may not need to recruit at all. Being more strategic means looking at ideas to change or develop a new product or service and examine how it fits within the total offering and if this needs bigger changes in the whole service or product offering.
As you can see, this all means hitting the pause button, engaging others in discussions and being prepared to think differently rather than just react to an event.
Relationship with others
The biggest driver for improving your relationship with others is to develop your empathy. This means your ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their world and how they see a situation. As leaders we can often assume how someone thinks and feels, but being more empathetic leads us to spend more time really understanding this.
Two very quick pieces of advice on this – improve your questioning skills (especially the use of open questions – who, what, where, when, how, why) and summarise your understanding to confirm clarity.
Strategic thinking is also about direction. You need direction and your people will look to you for it. What business or organisation are you looking to become? Where do you want to be at key points in the future? What are your goals and targets?
If you don’t know where you are going you will end up somewhere else!
Defining the point B from the point A where you are now is critical. I help leaders with this all the time. The pace of change in modern business is too fast to keep doing what you’ve always done. You need to stop what you are doing and think about the future you want to achieve. Work with others on this and continually monitor your progress against this strategic direction.
B) Creative Thinking
Do you feel you are creative? Some are more gifted than others, but we are all considerably more creative than we believe, and can develop our creative thinking further if we give it the time.
Creativity needs space and time
When do you have your best ideas? When you are head down stuck in the day to day workings of your business or when you’ve taken time out?
I recommend doing three things here
Firstly build creativity time into your schedule. Get away from your normal environment to stimulate your creativity. Finally, don’t necessarily have any prescribed ideas about how you will use this time. Allow your thinking to be free, because this is the essence of creativity. I often sit in a coffee shop with a blank piece of paper and see where this takes me. If this feels too unstructured you could have a few headings on a page about key areas of your business that you want to think about, but avoid being too prescriptive as this will stifle your creativity.
Creativity through interaction
Remember that almost always two (or more) heads are better than one. If you have an initial idea and want to develop it or sound it out, then working with others will enhance the creative process. If you want to generate some ideas from scratch, then traditional brainstorming is a well tested and proven approach. It’s still good to stimulate your own creative thinking alone first though, as described above.
I am going to cover a strategic visioning tool in ‘Skill 8’ of the ‘Think See Do’ model and I’ve also mentioned a blank piece of paper as a tool for your creativity! One other recommendation in this short article is to look into mind mapping. I use this for strategy, creativity and to map out specific things I’m working on such as a keynote talk.
You can simply do this on paper (as I often do) or look into tools (I use mindmapfree.com but mostly like working on paper). There are many more available so do the research and use what feels right for you.
I trust you have found this article has stimulated ideas on how to take more time out to think more effectively about your organisation, business or team. Have a listen to the podcast to go into this in more depth.
Please feel free to subscribe to the podcast series ‘Leadership Mindset – Think, See, Do’ and explore other episodes in the series.
If you feel you need support in your leadership role, please give me a call on 07912 143 040 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss how I can support your leadership development.