Leaders Explore Their Options
I was going to title this newsletter post “Leaders Think Outside the Box.” However, that is probably one of the most overused clichés in management and leadership today. Rather, I titled this post “Leaders Explore Their Options” for a specific reason.
Too frequently leaders embrace the status quo. Why? Because it’s easy. Because they don’t want to rock the boat. Because that’s what their bosses or boards desire.
However, if leaders wish to really maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of their organizations, they must make time to question processes and outcomes that typically do not get questioned.
Consider this: In this day and age most leaders embrace technology and the latest technological options available to them and their teams. This creates greater speed and increased efficiency for virtually every member of the team. However, technology alone does not necessarily create the best results.
For example, one of my coaching clients admitted to me this week that she thinks more clearly and retains information more accurately when she writes things down in her planner or journal. She used to be, in her words, “addicted to the phone.” However, now that she has returned to what some consider the old-fashioned way of recording ideas and activities, she finds that she is thinking more clearly and making better daily decisions.
She explored her options. In fact, empirical research for decades has shown that people tend to remember things more clearly when they write them down. This includes the literal act of writing on paper with a pen rather than dictating into an iPhone or typing things into a computer.
Another example of exploring options was mentioned by this same client, who had been struggling to fit current team members into existing positions. After reflecting upon the choices available to her, including rewriting job descriptions and shifting team members among several positions, she arrived at a different option. She chose to outsource a significant activity in her department, saving the department both time and money. By doing so, she was able to eliminate a troublesome position and help a struggling teammate find a more fitting position elsewhere within the parent organization.
During the past month, this leader saw two people resign their positions. Her first tendency was to think “Woe is me. I hate filling positions because it is so time-consuming and takes me away from other work.” However, rather than focus on the negative, she learned to view this situation as an opportunity. She now has the chance to interview and hire two potentially terrific new team members who will help her operate her department more effectively. In effect, she explored different attitude options and selected one that worked for her and her overall team.
Exploring options at all times gives you the chance to review existing processes, speak with your current team members, and ask your teammates what can be done differently. Exploring options doesn’t mean everything has to change. It does mean that as the leader, you always have the opportunity to ask tough questions, to search for the best answers, and to craft a vision that your teammates can buy into, even if it includes new processes, new products, and new people.
Exploring options will allow you to create meaningful direction for your organization and your colleagues. Remember that as a leader you do not have to have all the answers. Rather, you are there to provide meaningful direction.