Leadership watchouts – cues for your self assessment

Burning_questions
source: Robert Carter, Cracked Hat Illustration

If you feel like things are falling-apart rest assured that this state always precedes things-coming-together, and in a different and often better way. New ideas, new decisions, that’s what creativity is all about.

Nile Gardiner, a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator, provides a list of leadership criteria in his Telegraph UK’s post “The stunning decline of Barack Obama: 10 key reasons why the Obama presidency is in meltdown” to highlight reasons for US President Obama’s loss of popularity.

As a Creativity Professional I wondered if his list of observations/criticisms about the US president could be personalized for leaders to uncover areas for improvement?

The Leadership Lists

The first list shows criticisms, the second provides a road map for accessing your creative thinking capacity (new idea, new decisions), the third turns them around. In the third list criteria are repositioned as questions to inspire your creativity and apply it to your leadership. Responding to them using the directions provided in list two will help you generate new ideas and make new decisions you can use to create exciting new futures for you and for the people you lead.

List One: The Assessment

Which of these apply to you?

  1. You are out of touch with your people –  staff, colleagues, suppliers, customers, clients
  2. People you are leading don’t have confidence in you
  3. You fail to inspire optimism and engage people’s spirit
  4. Your organization/area is drowning in debt
  5. Your focus is on the company. You maintain broad-sweeping policies without paying particular attention to its parts, functions and people and their needs and contributions
  6. Your initiatives to make positive change are not widely accepted by others
  7. Your response to sudden changes affecting your organization/industry/business is indecisive
  8. Your business partnerships are a mess
  9. You are muddled and confused about new technology and your direction for the future
  10. You don’t believe in the greatness of your people

Owning up to any of these can be done in private, of course.  Let’s turn these around to engender an action, to get you over the hump.

List Two: Road Map to Generate New Ideas, Make New Decisions and Take New Actions

Using your creativity to respond to any of the questions below may require you to

  • clarify and understand the challenge (you did that by completing the assessment)
  • generate many alternative solutions in response to the challenge
  • select solution(s) you find involving, compelling and exciting to create your goal
  • devise a plan to accomplish your goal
  • put the plan in action
  • measure results
  • refine your plan
  • recognize new challenges/opportunities, etc.

(Note, I mention MAY REQUIRE YOU because different people approach using their creativity in different ways.  This framework loosely follows the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process taught at the International Center for Studies in Creativity and from a variety of Creativity Professionals and schools worldwide.)

List Three: Turn-around Leadership Questions

Directions: Select the question or questions that correspond to the leadership obstacles or potential weaknesses highlighted in the assessment. Begin with the one that seems most important to you, generate many alternative responses to overcome it, choose one of those responses and turn it into a solution. Then, make it so. Repeat as needed.

  1. In what ways might you be more in touch with people – your staff, colleagues, suppliers, customers, clients?
  2. What are some ways you might behave so the people you are leading have confidence in you?
  3. How might you inspire optimism and engage people’s spirit?
  4. What actions might you take to smartly handle debt?
  5. What are some ways to identify specific needs and contributions of each aspect of your business?
  6. What else might you do to influence wide acceptance of your initiatives to make a positive change?
  7. How might you prepare decisive responses to sudden changes affecting your organization/industry/business?
  8. In what ways might you strengthen your business partnerships?
  9. What would be involved in becoming clear about new technology and your direction for the future?
  10. What would it take for you to be convinced of and believe in the greatness of your people?

Yes, this is an example of some of what Creativity Professionals do.  Turn obstacles into opportunities.

creativityland includes Obstacles into Opportunities in our Passport to Innovation program where we show people how to reap benefits by using fresh thinking in response to  things going-out-of-whack.  Obstacles into Opportunities is often requested as a stand alone session with applications to a specific business challenge and as an interactive keynote.