In my recent ezine article I wrote about how leaders needed to avoid the trap of ‘flat-earth thinking’. I suggested three things that could be employed in avoiding the trap, namely: Curiosity, courage and commitment.

I went on to say that whilst curiosity, courage and commitment may not seem the ideal ‘how to’ tools to add to your leadership toolkit I have since been asked to provide some practical pointers as to how one could go about developing such tools.

Here then would be some suggestions to consider as to how best to intentionally cultivate these three ‘weapons’ in the war against flat-earth thinking.

  • Ask questions that start with ‘why?’
  • Challenge assumptions
  • Don’t be afraid to initiate a ‘pause’ in meetings to think some more
  • Start your meeting with a period of silence – and take note of the responses
  • Look to learn from failure. Suspend judgement and interrogate the entire process that led to the failure
  • Read biographies of those you deem to have been courageous and committed. Share their stories with your team
  • Define what you mean by ‘committed’. Answers might surprise you depending on the age of the respondent!
  • Watch children at play…then go and play with them. Allow them to be ‘the Boss’ of whatever it is you are engaged in.
  • Journal
  • Watch movies / TV programmes that you might not ordinarily watch
  • Take a different route to work every day for a week
  • Rearrange your office. Do without your office.
  • Look to learn something new every week. Keep a record of your learning.
  • Invite others to perform functions that you usually reserve for yourself. Watch how they go about it.
  • Take the youngest / newest / oldest / most maverick member of your team / staff to lunch and ask them questions about what they think / see / feel when it comes to working in your team / company
  • Identify the urgent things driving your agenda. Then list the things that are important. Discuss your findings with someone you feel might be able to reflect with you / offer some helpful perspective
  • Read the Dr Seuss’s book; ‘Oh the places you would go’
  • Ask five good customers / clients what you could do differently in your dealings with them – things that would enhance the relationship or add value. Now do the same with five customers / clients that you would rather not have that conversation with!
  • Ask your team (individually) to hold you accountable for something that you want to improve concerning how you lead
  • Explore the Enneagram as a personal assessment tool / framework
  • Find / meet with a Mentor.
  •  Identify people you deem to be curious / courageous / commitment and try to get to know them better
  • Watch the sunrise / sunset every day for a week
  • Identify what was the most courageous thing you have ever done and then reflect on the circumstances, results and impact of that event / moment. What insights do you take from this for where you are today?
  • Volunteer to help out at a charity / non-profit for a short period of time
  • Invite yourself to diner with a staff member who is from a different culture / background to yourself
  • Walk the floor, visit places in your office / factory that you seldom get to
  • Do somebody else’s job for a morning / day
  • Ask ‘is there a better way’ to at least five things in which you are routinely involved within the context of your work / leadership. Explore the options
  • Suspend some rules / restrictions in the ‘way things are done’ in your company and see what results
  • Ask five people for the ‘best book’ they have read – and read them. Make sure at least two are fiction.
  • Ask people what is important to them concerning their work. Don’t settle on the first thing (or even the second thing) they tell you. Dig deeper.

I think you get the point. Now select 10 things from this list; add 10 further things of your own and then start doing them. Start actions that will nurture habits and see where that takes you. Some of what you elect to do may be private, others you may want to share – or even invite participation.

This type of ‘stuff’ isn’t really that hard. It is just that many leaders neglect it…and then forget about it altogether and the trap of flat-earth thinking is sprung without them even knowing it!

Share your story as you try some of this ‘stuff’. It will be a story worth sharing and as you do so – others will follow.

KC-S Keith is a founding partner of TomorrowToday. His skills lie in his ability to find appropriate frameworks, insights and processes for individuals and companies in the area of strategic leadership.

Keith works with leadership teams and senior leaders to explore and evaluate their concept of the New World of Work. Keith can be emailed on keith@tomorrowtoday.co.za and found on Twitter at @keithcoats

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