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Leaders as Thought-shifters

Today’s post is historic. It marks only the second time I have had someone write a guest post for the i2i blog. The other time was back in 2010 when my then 12-year-old poet daughter, Katherine, made her blog debut. In case you missed it, check out The Coffee Pot.
 
If you read yesterday’s post, Leaders Open Doors, you know I am recommending Bill Treasurer’s new book by that title. While I have not met Bill, I have an indirect connection with him through Weaving Influence. Today Bill has graciously written a guest post for the i2i blog. So naturally I am “opening a door” to help him spread the word about his new book. Make sure you leave a comment below and I will pass it along to Bill.  Also, I will be choosing one comment, at random, and sending out a free copy of Leaders Open Doors.
 

Leaders as Thought-shifters  

– Bill Treasurer

One challenge most leaders face is how to inspire more workplace creativity. There are plenty of clock punchers out there, folks who are physically working but mentally retired. Elevating people to higher standards of performance and inspiring useful ideas requires igniting their imaginations. Leaders spend a lot of time preventing complacency and lethargy. They know that mental grooves of habit eventually form ruts of routine. When people see things the way they’ve always seen them, everything stays the same, dulling work to the point of drudgery. Conversely, real opportunities can be found in helping people to be more imaginative by freeing them from narrow, negative, or habitual thinking.

It’s hard to inspire people to be creative by being boring. Yet so many leaders do just that. They try to jumpstart fresh ideas by using stale approaches. They gathered people in the same old meeting room that are usually reserved for droning over monthly accounting reports. They hold the meeting at 2:00 p.m., exactly when everyone’s after-lunch coma is setting in. They stand next to a white piece of flipchart with a black pen that doesn’t work and gleefully exclaim, “Okay everyone, let’s get creative!”

As a leader, you’ll get better results in shifting their thinking by getting them outside of the four-walled environment. Consider the approach used by the chief marketing officer of a large manufacture of paper plates, cups, and napkins. For too long his team defaulted to one idea for increasing sales of their commodity product: discounting. Any time the company wanted to increase market share or drive up sales, they would just pump out more Sunday coupons.

The CMO needed better and more imaginative ideas from his team. He wanted people to remember that they weren’t just selling plates, cups, and napkins. They were working for a brand that was deeply connected to the family experience. So instead of gathering them for another boring brainstorming session, he arranged a lavish picnic! It was set up just like you’d set it up a barbeque in your own backyard. There were picnic tables with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, an outdoor grill sizzling with hotdogs and hamburgers, even outdoor games like horseshoes and tetherball. Of course there was something else too: lots of the company’s plates, cups, and napkins. They weren’t just commodities; they were an essential part of the experience.

It didn’t take long for people to shift their thinking away from commodities and toward values and traditions. They started seeing that on any summer day, their products were smack-dab in the middle of people’s backyard barbeques, picnics, and family birthday parties. The company’s products were important because they helped make people’s family time more fun, enjoyable, and worry-free. Without the picnic table, grill, and their products, a backyard would just be a sorry patch of land behind the house.

When people started percolating on new marketing and product ideas, the word “discounting” never came up. Instead, they started talking about creative marketing campaigns designed to inspire the feelings of a warm summer afternoon. They talked about partnering with an outdoor grill company. They talked about new “summer flower” design borders for their plates and napkins. They talked about creating an interactive website where customers could swap their favorite picnic recipes. By shifting people’s thinking and getting them away from the ordinary work environment, the open-door leader opened up a space for people to think in a more inspired way.

Shifting people’s thinking is an important part of a leader’s job. But thought-shifts don’t happen with tired and outdated approaches. The best way to jumpstart new ideas, and prevent habitual or lazy thinking, is to mix things up. Changing the venue and letting people experience their own products firsthand is a great place to start.

Leaders Open Doors

Bill Treasurer is the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting. His latest book is Leaders Open Doors, and focuses on how leaders create growth through opportunity. Bill is also the author of Courage Goes to Work, an international bestselling book that introduces the concept of courage-building. He is also the author of Courageous Leadership: A Program for Using Courage to Transform the Workplace, an off-the-shelf training toolkit that organizations can use to build workplace courage. Bill has led courage-building workshops for, among others, NASA, Accenture, CNN, PNC Bank, SPANX, Hugo Boss, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. To inquire about having Bill work with your organization, contact info@giantleapconsulting.com.

i2i,

Randy

Leave your comment for Bill and an the opportunity to receive a free copy of Leaders Open Doors. (One person will be chosen)

 

Leave a comment



John Orr

7 years ago

Good thoughts for me to consider as I enter into this venture of rePlanting a church. I need to get creative as I structure our re: development times. Thanks for posting this!

randygravitt

7 years ago

Thanks JO … You are going to be an amazing leader for your team!

japonzio

7 years ago

Where I use to work people would start standing around the door and literally start looking at the clock. As soon as the first person’s watch or clock stated 5:00 pm everyone started for the doors. The place quickly became a ghost town. When I first started I looked at how things were done and even asked others about different processes. I asked for ideas and thoughts. I had wanted to improve how things were done.
Unfortunately clock watching was too ingrained. There were a few other factors but needless to say I wasn’t able to make a difference.
I do like the thought of changing things around and starting off things out of the box. It is amazing how one thing can spark a thought or idea. Then that leads to another, and another, and another…
Thanks for sharing I needed something fresh for my thoughts today…
God bless,
Ja

i2ileadership

7 years ago

Thanks Jason!

Jeremy Etress

7 years ago

Surround yourself with ‘champions’…i.e. – open doors by focusing on fostering strengths of others rather than trying to strengthen their weaknesses.
I am often quick to make excuses like ” I’m not creative enough!”, and whether or not that is totally true, I have submitted to defeat before I’ve even gotten started. But if I surround myself with ‘champions’, I will experience creativity, for example, that is certain to influence me, just as my strengths are certain to influence others.

i2ileadership

7 years ago

Great insights, Jeremy!

momofsix

7 years ago

When I first read the article I thought it was not relevent to me, a stay at home Mom of six.But as I thought of it in regards to encouraging my employees (my children)the possibilities were extremely relevent. Cant wait to get the book and start gleaning insight for my “job” as CEO at home!

i2ileadership

7 years ago

Awesome Mom Of Six … You have the most important job on the planet! Thanks for the comment.

Teresa Stubblefield-Skreen

7 years ago

Coming up with new ideas sometimes seem impossible. Changing my physical setting seems like an easy option for changing my thought process. I’m going to try it next time I’m stuck.

randygravitt

7 years ago

Awesome, Teresa!

cath

7 years ago

That is just what I needed to hear today! As an owner of a 9 year old business, I can totally see the ruts I AND my employees get into. Habits and routine feel comfortable in the workplace, but they do nothing to grow the business nor create an environment in which people are excited to work in day after day. I think its time to put the wisdom in this blog post into action….Thanks for the insight and gems of wisdom.

randygravitt

7 years ago

Thanks Cath! Can’t wait to hear how the changes make a difference.

Jason S.

7 years ago

Thank you for the message. It is so easy to be caught in the rut of corporate leadership, but it takes courage to step outside that to be a true leader. Thank you for the encouragement to do so.

randygravitt

7 years ago

Thanks Jason!

Andrea

7 years ago

Thank You!! Wow, How easy it is to get in to ruts, and working with others who have their ideas in ruts too. Thanks for encouraging us to think differently!

randygravitt

7 years ago

You are welcome, Andrea. Thanks for the comment!

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