In Great Leaders GROW, Ken Blanchard and I outline four strategies to help leaders grow. The third of these is Open Your World. The metaphor I often use to explain why this is so important for leaders is that of an artist putting paint on a palette. You can only use the paint after it's on your palette. As we expand our world, we are putting more on our leadership palette. Only then can we create the masterpiece our vision demands.
Yes, but how? How can you and I Open Our World? First, we need to think about this in two arenas – both at work and outside of work. The good news is that although the activities may be different in these two arenas, we paint from only one palette. ALL of our experiences, activities, and relationships will help us lead at a higher level.
Here are some ideas to consider to Open Your World at work…
- Shadow someone from another department or team
- Work at a client’s facility for a day—or longer
- Listen in on customer calls
- Travel with senior leaders from the company
- Have lunch with someone from another department at least once a week
- Serve on a cross-functional team
- Begin collecting best practices from top performers
- Interview recent retirees and seek their counsel on current issues
- Find a mentor (formal or informal) from another department
- Lead anything you can—project team, ad hoc group, work group, fund raising campaign, corporate fitness effort, department meeting, corporate blood drive, continuous improvement team, or Christmas party. Chances are good you’ll learn more by leading than anything else.
Here are some ideas to Open Your World outside of work…
- Find a new hobby
- Learn a foreign language
- Spend time with interesting people
- Read widely
- Do home projects—outside your comfort zone
- Find a mentor from a field unrelated to your own
- Enjoy the arts—museums, plays, concerts
- Stretch yourself with adventure experiences—skydiving, white water rafting, scuba diving, mountain climbing, hot air balloon rides, etc.
We live in a big world – the best leaders seem to know that. Make the most of it and reap the benefits both short term and for decades to come. How big is your world?
What can you do in the next 30 days to Open Your World?