We have all learned to become comfortable and to some extent, complacent, in a given circumstance. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the workplace. Unintentionally, leaders often fall into a status quo form of managing and the sad part is that many of them are unaware that this has happened. It is comfortable to be sure, but it is not a great way to lead, particularly in these hyper-competitive times.
It has always fascinated me that looking at something from a different perspective unearths new questions, possibilities, choices and decisions. I love to take pictures which provides a simple example to explain this. Without the camera, you look at a scene and see a subject, foreground and background. But when you see the same thing through the viewfinder, the image changes. When you change lenses, say from a telephoto lens to a wide-angle lens, you see entirely different images. Even though you are looking at essentially the same thing.
How can you apply this in the office? How do you allow yourself to see a new perspective?
Think about the emergency box we always see that says, “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass.” This is the metaphor you should think about as you start to think about your role and how you can effectively drive change in your business..
Leaders can apply this to their everyday leadership strategy. As an advisor, I coach leaders to become more engaged so that they can see things inside their company from a new and different perspective. Here are 3 tips I recommend for quickly learning how to do this.
1. Take a tour of your business
Let’s say you are the person running the company and pride yourself on how well you manage day-to-day operations of your business. Are you too close to the situation to see things that do not make sense? Sometimes, people who have done the same job for a few years miss things that are hiding in plain sight, or they may reject an idea because it was rejected last year, even though the circumstances are quite different today. The status quo sets in, which is the nemesis of driving change. How can you become more aware that this behavior is happening to you?
I always tell leaders to get out of their office, because nothing good happens in your office. Pretend you just joined the company and were hired into your job. What would you do? You would go on a tour and be able to get a feel for the people, the physical environment, and perhaps a sense of the culture.
I suggest speaking to as many employees as you can. Entry-level workers, marketing specialists, shop foremen, supervisors — as many as you can. Find out from them what they like, don’t like, what is working, what’s not, and any suggestions they have for improvements. Ask them about their job and responsibilities and what else they need to become more effective. You will be amazed at the number and nature of points they make, and if you are like me, you will find this to be a very energizing activity to participate in.
2. Develop Your List
You have accumulated an extensive set of observations, facts, issues, opportunities and other important information. And if you have done this first step well, it is a lot of information to process. You need to organize this information into some logical buckets so that you can eliminate duplications and fine tune the messages.
Share this list with your team so that they understand that you are both serious and committed to this process and that you have chosen to involve them in it. Spend time with them explaining how you acquired this information and engage them to see whether these findings resonate with them. It is vitally important that everyone in the room fully understands what each item really means and that they are not buzz words or codes for other issues.
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