How to think like a leader
Thursday, April 26, 2018
A title does not make someone a leader. In fact, leaders can be found within all levels of the organization. There is no one path for becoming a leader. And there are also different types of leaders.
Yet, just as there are a few common characteristics of all leaders, there are also common ways leaders approach their work. Whether transitioning into a leadership role or looking for ways to refresh your leadership approach, here a few ways to think more like a leader.
Life on other planets
Leaders think bigger. Not simply in the sense of bigger goals, but bigger than whatever the prevailing issue, trend or success is. Servant leaders, hierarchical chiefs and those leaning in all keep an eye open for opportunities to incorporate a new approach, another perspective or a known entity in a new way while maintaining focus on what is at hand.
Being fluid in thought allows leaders to produce great ideas that seem so obvious after the fact and new ideas that seem to come out of nowhere. Instead of limiting their imagination, they let go and allow seemingly disparate options to inform the larger answer.
To think more globally, try thinking outside the parameters of the usual solutions. Get an opinion, perspective or idea from an unexpected source and just play with it to see how doing so can impact next steps.
Nothing to see here
This classic "Naked Gun" movie scene depicts the police urging onlookers to move past scene. While good leaders can keep employees focused through challenges, it is important to acknowledge and learn from mistakes. The key is balancing between knowing how long to review failures and when to decisively move on.
Thinking like a leader means that reflection is for learning, not for regrets, second-guessing or excuses. Good leaders do not look at the evaluation process as an opportunity for blame. Instead, they focus on engaging the team in honest, fruitful discourse that includes review of failures yet clearly sets the stage for next steps.
Such conversations allow for an element of venting but close out the past and clearly define steps to move forward.
The 'me' in team
Good leaders exhibit amazing confidence, but not at the expense of others. Instead, part of their confidence comes from recognizing they are better because of others.
Confidence also comes from embracing the fact that they are in a position that can make a change, affect a difference or have an impact and taking advantage of it. Thinking like a leader means recognizing that other people are part of the success, and it is incumbent upon them to use their position to inspire others to act.
The bottom line: Being a good leader is not just about knowledge, experience or skill. It is the ability to seize the moment, exploit the possibilities and inspire others to contribute their best toward the same vision. To do this, look for alternative perspectives, respect reflection, be decisive and use the opportunities and resources available to bring it all together.
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