How to Think Innovatively and Become an Outstanding Leader
Companies today need to know how to think innovatively to remain competitive. Learn how you and your executive team can develop an innovative leadership with these 6 simple habits and stay ahead of the competition.
According to administration guru and writer, Peter Drucker, leaders should be capable of having three attributes: effectiveness, efficiency and innovation. This means being able to do the right things the right ways. But in an age of undiscerning competition, where clients expect increasingly more from companies, leaders should also be able to do things differently.
We could argue that business schools commonly educate leaders and managers to think in the same way. So, how to break with the traditional scheme and think differently?
1. Set yourself the personal goal of thinking differently
A basic requirement for leadership is the ability to contemplate the problems that the company is facing: if you’re not thinking about your business, market, clients or competitors, someone else surely will. Thinking is a skill, therefore practice makes perfect.
Most leaders are goal-oriented. Consequently, in order to become a better thinker, capable of generating new ideas, solutions and possibilities on demand, set it as your personal goal. It could be a subjective measure, such as asking yourself: “Am I better at thinking outside the box than a year ago?”, or an objective one, like asking your coworkers to evaluate your ability to think differently on a scale of 1 to 10.
2. Swim against the current
It may be very appealing to follow what the crowd, consensus or trends are saying. But, as the ex-Prime Minister of Australia Paul Keating said: “leadership requires imagination and courage”. At least as a thinking exercise, we recommend that every leader, both current and potential, take the least popular posture every now and then.
This will allow you to see the situation from a different angle and sharpen the reasons why an alternative plan of action could be chosen. For example, the next time you turn the TV on and don’t agree with the point of view expressed by the newscasters, try adopting their same posture to see the situation from a different point of view.
3. Put yourself in another leader’s shoes and ask yourself what you would do in their place
A good tip to up your golf game is imagining how you would swing your opponent’s next turn. This same logic can be applied to leadership. Frequently leaders are restricted to their areas of responsibility. One way of growing is considering the decisions that other make. For example, ask yourself: “Would I have answered that question in that tone of voice?” Or, if you are in charge of marketing, ask yourself what transcendental initiative you would consider funding if you were responsible for the financial portfolio.
4. The power of three
This can be one of the most useful exercises leaders can do. In any situation, try coming up with three solutions: the normal one, a different one and a radical one. It is surprising how powerful it can be to consider a wider array of options and give oneself and other the opportunity to express radical, out-of-the-ordinary ideas.
5. Find other point of view
It is difficult to think differently if you are surrounded with people that share your same points of view. You might get along well but you will rarely receive any truly different suggestions. Speak with people outside your industry or rank. Speak with actionists, suppliers or recently-hired employees. These people will challenge and stretch your way of thinking, broadening your ability to think differently.
6. Be open to different points of view
If you want to think differently, you should allow other to do so as well. In fact, you should encourage it. Recognize and point out different points of view within your team, even if you don’t agree with them. No point of view is superior to another; they complement each other and provide different perspectives of a same situation.
7. Make original questions
You will not be able to think differently as long as you keep asking the same questions, or questions to which you already know the answer to. Creating and innovating implies asking new and insightful questions that uncover new areas of opportunity.
8. Map out your ideas
This last step can help you better visualize your ideas to consider its repercussions, link solutions and assess situations more thoroughly.
Being able to think innovatively is a skill that may be acquired and perfected. It is a rewarding and worthwhile process, and is increasingly an attribute that characterizes outstanding leaders.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein.
At TRISSA we can help you establish a process to ensure new ideas get shared and that you have the information you need to evaluate their viability. We use a comprehensive approach to consulting services, executive education and software solutions to help our clients move from idea to action. We work with visionary executives looking to excel in their industries and that wish to coordinate their efforts with a strategy in order to achieve greater results.
Author: Trissa Strategy Consulting
Source: Hudson, Ken. Learn to think differently: Eight simple steps for leaders. January 2013. Website. April 2013.