Reading the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, or any number of magazines focusing upon business and world events, you have to ask yourself, “What impact is all this having on my clients and their attitudes and perceptions?” There is so much going on, instantly shared by the communication highways of expanding technology, especially social media, that fact-based information becomes harder and more difficult to identify. In this environment, your ability to step back and be reflective is more valuable than ever before. Staying in touch with what is really going on is the best way of forcing yourself to grow.
Over the next few months, I will be exploring with my clients their experiences and lessons they have learned, adopted and put to use, that are helping them grow and develop as successful individuals. One of the “truths” I have discovered is growth is fueled by the habit of inquiry. Questions are asked not merely to generate answers but to reveal what is possible. Rather than just solve problems, successful individuals seek ways to alter their relationship with problems to create larger opportunities for themselves and their companies. How can this ability be developed?
The first key is your ability to develop a vision for your work larger than the problems you face on the job. Life doesn’t follow straight-line logic; it conforms to a kind of curved logic that changes the nature of things and often turns them into opposites. Problems are not just hassles to be dealt with and set aside. Lurking inside each problem is a workshop on the nature of organizations and a vehicle for personal growth. This requires a shift in how we think. We need to value the thinking process of finding the solution, juggling the inconsistencies that meaningful solutions entail. This means developing the self-confidence to deal with ambiguity and to not be afraid of making a mistake. Mistakes can always be changed as experience shows a better answer and pathway. This requires a clear vision within which to place your challenges. You must have the ability to lead and support a “Culture of Encouragement.” Without this culture, it’s difficult turning intentions into reality.
The challenge so many leaders are facing today is maintaining focus and discipline in a way that doesn’t stifle creativity. Your skills and abilities as a leader are the secret of turning a business into one that fosters creativity by embracing the culture of encouragement. My experience supports three key leadership principles that help make this culture possible. The first is a clear vision for where you are heading and why. The second is a commitment to seeking truth through embracing the value of “inquiry.” Lastly, being an individual who lives his or her values every day, and in doing so, becomes the role model for the entire organization.