No one is impervious to ruts. Even great leaders can feel stuck. When you're stuck in a rut it can be very difficult to see problems from different perspectives and find creative solutions. Thinking outside-the-box is nearly impossible when you're stuck in the box.
I believe that in order to be an effective leader you sometimes need to do the opposite of what conventional wisdom suggests. For it is likely that conventional wisdom is the reason you are stuck.
Here are three ways I change things up to break from ruts:
1. Look Outside Your Industry: When you're stuck on a problem, find another professional in a completely different industry and get their take on the situation. As a matter of fact, get your whole team do it. You can do this by actually having a conversation or by searching the Internet for industry specific case studies. Take ample time to study it out and think it through, then gather everyone back together and share the knowledge that's been acquired. It can become all too easy to get stuck in your industry mindset. Looking at the world from a completely different perspective will open up new experiences and add new wisdom.
2. No Early Morning Meetings: When you're stoked to get into work and get things done, the worst thing you can do is start the day off with a drawn-out meeting that will destroy all your momentum. Rather, spend your time prioritizing your to-do list and planning out your week. This includes prioritizing which meetings are actually necessary.
3. Play Devil’s Advocate: Take time to question everything you are doing. Whether you're thinking to yourself or meeting with your team, let everyone involved play devil’s advocate. Embracing discussion and debate will empower your whole team as they contribute to defending a position or hashing out potential problems. This method will help you better understand the importance of your work and discover areas that need improvement.
Paul Hill, Ph.D.
I design, plan, and evaluate economic development programs for Utah State University.
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