This is the second article in a three-part series on creative leaders:
Embrace the reverse pilot | Look outside your circle | Make time for inspiration

Leaders can get stuck in a rut. To avoid the rut, it helps to have a few simple tricks to keep the creative juices flowing. While it is not always about embracing every new, shiny theory, it does require effort, practice and some attempt to stay current.

This three-part series for creative leaders will highlight a few nontraditional strategies to add to that leadership bag of tricks. In Part 1, we discussed the reverse pilot. Here we examine the spheres of influence that can confine us and simple ways to look outside those circles.

Social circle

The first and often easiest way to infuse a change of perspective into an ordinary workday is to change lunch plans.

Instead of meeting the same group, going to the same restaurant or networking at the same club, skip it once. Not doing something the same way every time can open up new opportunities to meet different people, see new things or engage in another activity.

Further, in addition to simply skipping the event, consider replacing it. Consider networking alternatives, different physical activities or new restaurants. For example, check the speakers and topics of networking groups outside of your specialty; meet a nonwork friend for lunch at a new place or cruise through a local art gallery or museum.

Getting a new perspective in the middle of the work day can get your brain working in different ways which can help freshen up your approach when you return to the office.

Book club

Another simple switch that can have a big impact on leadership perspective is changing up information sources.

Maybe certain professional publications are a necessary read for industry developments. However, picking up a magazine or searching for articles outside our normal sources can provide a small tweak in our point of view that can lead to interesting breakthroughs.

For example, service providers may benefit from looking at product marketing techniques to keep their approach fresh (and vice versa) by focusing on the transferable principles within the content. Similarly, checking out a leadership article from Stanford Social Innovation Review instead of Harvard Business Review can highlight similar strategies from a different approach.

Exercise wheel

Finally, whenever it starts to feel like we are a gerbil running on a wheel, it may be time to make a schedule change. Picking one of the standard things we do every day and changing it can have a profound affect on our perspective.

Consider exercising in the morning instead of the afternoon, take a different route to work, or even change your work hours one day per week. The logistics may seem a little challenging at first. However, going through the effort to question things we normally do on auto-pilot can, at the very least, remind us why we do it and, at best, provide us with new ideas or a better approach.

The bottom line: Remaining a creative leader does not always require massive shifts, new degrees or long management seminars. Little tweaks to lunches, publications and schedules can have a big impact on our ability to stay creative.