How do I become a better leader in a changing world?
It’s a question that’s been on the minds of so many I’ve talked with recently. It was also the question that lingered in my mind this past year as I was deep in the process of putting together the second edition of The Whole Brain Business Book.
The response we hear so often is, Be more agile. Build your agility. But how? And what does that even mean?
Well, for one, I believe it means unleashing your full brainpower. The only way you can keep up with change and lead through the chaos and uncertainty and distractions and complexities and big data and on and on and on…is to get more conscious about your thinking and how you apply it.
Unleashing your full thinking potential can be uncomfortable, though, whether you’re a highly structured thinker who needs to experiment and take more risks, or a highly imaginative person who needs the discipline and organization to be more productive with your time.
Fortunately, brain research supports the fact that you can stretch and overcome your mental blind spots to become a more agile thinker and leader. It’s something we talk about throughout the newly updated Whole Brain Business Book.
Although the second edition won’t be on the shelves until this spring, you don’t have to wait until then to get started! Here are 6 tips from the book you can apply today to make thinking agility your leadership advantage in a changing world:
- Get used to being uncomfortable: Discomfort is a sign the brain is engaged and learning. Instead of wanting to avoid those who make you uncomfortable, recognize the opportunity they offer to help you stretch your thinking. Hire and enlist them. They can become your biggest asset. Make it a personal challenge to work through the discomfort to new understanding.
- Challenge your assumptions. The brain is very efficient, and it will “fill in the blanks” for you when you’re looking for a solution. But when you’re trying to see something in a different way or find a new way of doing things, the quick leap to conclusions can ultimately be a trap. When you begin to make an assumption, flip it around. Ask yourself, “What if this was not true?”
- Embrace the unknown. It’s your ally, not your enemy. Change presents a great opportunity for new thinking, but only if you deliberately and consciously take advantage of it.
- Optimize your toolkit. Use your own thinking preferences to determine the tools that work for you. For example, if you’re a highly visual thinker, a linear, spreadsheet-style planning tool may make the task of getting organized even more difficult for you. If the techniques and processes aren’t helping, look to thinking preferences for clues and help on how you can find or create a more workable solution for you.
- Lighten up. Unconventional approaches free the brain and stimulate new ideas and perspectives. Find ways to jolt your thinking, and have fun with it!
- Make it a mental habit. Decide what you want and go for it, making your desired future outcomes a reality.
Especially in today’s knowledge-intensive world, your greatest strength lies in your ability to get smarter about your thinking—to make your thinking work for you instead of being trapped by it. Try it, and see how it makes the difference!
(And if you want to get more insights from the book—and be among the first to get a copy—be sure to join me at the ATD 2015 International Conference & Exposition in Orlando this May.)