January 18, 2015
Leaders often believe that they need to have the answer. Perhaps it’s their belief that they’re responsible for solving problems and getting people on board with their answers. Or, perhaps they believe that their answers and solutions are the “right” ones. Unfortunately this mindset is a huge barrier to leading a team to respond effectively to the volatility of the marketplace and the willingness to consider new ideas and approaches. In fact, I often hear from leaders their frustration about the unwillingness of their team to take initiative in solving problems or addressing challenges.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” Einstein
How can a leader begin to transform this kind of thinking? First and foremost, staying open and curious. Being open implies being willing to let go of your assumptions. Assuming that your view of the situation is accurate or absolute is the quickest way to block creative thought or contribution. Being open also allows for one to fully consider alternative viewpoints and approaches. Being open creates a safe space to question ideas, approaches or previous decisions resulting in a rich and creative discussion. And in doing so, allows people to fully participate and experience the value of their contribution. At the end of the day, don’t we all want to know that we matter? What a gift you can provide by simply being open and inviting others to participate.
Staying curious goes hand in hand with being open. Staying curious helps us to suspend judgment and opinion. As a result, people are more likely to offer their ideas and perspective. Staying curious enables one to authentically engage in the discussion with “beginner’s mind”. Not pretending, but truly looking at the circumstances with a new set of eyes.
If you find yourself frustrated by the lack of initiative or contribution, try stepping back and re-engaging with the team with an open and curious mindset.