Think Leadership Ideas

Uncommon Thinking

What Is Leadership?

I believe there is a definite answer to the perennial question, “what is leadership?” But it’s not one that follows conventional thinking.
I believe that leadership is most effectively understood from a multi-faceted perspective, not a unidimensional one - that we are best informed about leadership by looking at the five categories, or dimensions, as a whole. Taken together, they span roles, actions, and individual qualities to form a coherent and actionable concept of leadership.
This article looks at each of the five dimensions as they express differing definitions of leadership, then see how they hang together to inform us about leadership in the 21st century.

Four Questions, Sharper Thinking

Four Questions
for Sharper Thinking and Focused Presentations

How do you even start to organize ideas?

Perhaps you have a complex business you need to describe to potential customers or investors. Maybe your department needs to continually justify its existence to corporate powers that be, or you have to present material about a complicated subject to people from different backgrounds.

What is a Solution?
Here’s a technique for organizing your ideas so you can present a topic meaningfully, whether you have one hour or are limited to one minute. Succinctly answer these four questions: what, why, how, and so what?

Article summary:
What ...a technique to simplify complex information
Why ...lets you communicate clearly and succinctly
How organizing ideas around four questions: what, why, how, so what
So What ...clear and focused communication will accelerate your achievement

See the full article here, and make your own comments. Read More...

Stand Out: Create An Experience

Want to stand out and win customers? Think beyond product and customer service. In today’s marketplace, quality products and services along with great customer service are the basics you need just to be in the game. The big question to ask is what is the experience your business creates? Your answer is a key to positioning, differentiation, and added value that can make your business a winner. Read More...

People Are Not Machines

Time to crank up production? Get this place running like a well-oiled machine?

The machine continues to be the dominant metaphor of the workplace – meaning we tend to relate to our working world as if it was a machine. We have plenty of experiences each day that reinforce this perception of life-as-machine: We step on the gas pedal and our cars move faster. We push a button and documents get efficiently copied – maybe even on both sides, collated, and stapled.

I continue to be approached by executives looking for that metaphorical lever, pedal, dial, or button that will motivate people, get them to change, or increase morale. It’s the wrong thing to be looking for because it’s the wrong metaphor. Read More...

Problem or Possibility?

We all know it would be foolish, even potentially suicidal, to ignore illness, cost controls, or defects. Achieving excellence, however, requires going beyond problem thinking, and operating from a perspective of possibility thinking.

This key principle applies directly to leaders who aspire to achieve outstanding success for their businesses or organizations. Extraordinary organizations are not created simply by solving problems. Leaders need to be skillful at problem-solving, yes, but to be outstanding they also need to be competent at possibility-building. Read More...

EQ Meets Critical Thinking

First the obvious. Given that “knowledge work” is on the rise, the value that people add to organizations increasingly comes from brainpower – the ability to think. It behooves leaders, therefore, to create conditions that enhance people using their brains to the fullest, especially when leading or managing knowledge workers.

What is surprising to many people is that emotions are biologically linked to critical thinking – i.e., to the use of the intellect, rationality, and logical analysis. While conventional wisdom says emotions get in the way of analytical thinking (and certainly they can), or that they are inherently irrational, modern neuroscience appears to embrace the idea that emotions are a key support of intellectual performance.

Leadership and the 8th Muda

As a leader in your organization, do you add muda or subtract it?

Muda is a Japanese term for waste. One of the prime tenants of the Toyota production system, to which much of that company’s outstanding quality and profitability can be attributed, is to reduce muda. The organization is built on constant striving to identify and eliminate anything that does not add value for the final customer. The Toyota processes are now used worldwide, often called LEAN processing.

Seven mudas are traditionally recognized: overproduction, waiting, unnecessary transport, over processing, excess inventory, unnecessary movement, and defects. Jeffrey K. Liker, in his excellent book The Toyota Way, adds an eighth muda – unused employee creativity.

Liker describes the eighth muda as the waste of “losing time, ideas, skills, improvements, and learning opportunities by not engaging or listening to your employees.” Too many organizations suffer from CEOs or owners that inflate the eighth muda, rather than contribute to its elimination.

Edge of the Box Thinking

When desperate for innovation, what is most any leader likely to say? “Think outside of the box.” Think about it.

“Out of the Box” is a cliché, a phrase that’s been around for decades. Everyone knows what it means, but it’s hardly a trigger for ideas that are fresh, creative, and original. I encourage people to focus on Edge of the Box thinking – especially if you need ideas with a high potential for useful application.

Edge of the Box thinking is based on viewing the world at the boundaries of your organization and experience, where inside and outside perspectives can be combined, and where fresh ideas most likely will emerge. In today’s knowledge-based world, useful innovation typically arises out of combining core competencies with ideas taken from places outside of your industry or field, but not so far out as to be inaccessible. Read More...

Ask Yourself Big Questions

Consider the two following questions.

What are the goals for my business this year?

What would the world miss if my business didn’t exist?

Both are important, but for very different reasons – and they will impact your thinking in very different ways. Read More...

Resolving Issues

Does your team incessantly talk about the same issues? Does it seem that too many issues never get resolved?

I find that most groups get stuck in one or more of three areas, discernment, design, or discipline - i.e understanding what is going on, crafting a satisfying response, and following through with meaningful action.

Following are twelve questions leaders can use to stimulate progress on those persistent issues that plague your team or organization.