Saturday, February 21, 2015

Does An Outward Thinking Leader Create Discomfort?

The very goal of creating constructive discomfort is to spark creativity by getting out of the comfort zone.

Business leaders play a pivotal role in driving the organization’s growth and leading societal progress, how to walk the talk and lead effectively? Should a high-effective leader get liked by all or create discomfort to provoke talent growth? Getting respected or being popular, which one is more important?  

Outward future focus: Leaders need to focus outward on the horizon for future opportunities and pitfalls. A leader is a person who is focused outward scanning the horizon, looking for future opportunities or possible perils. Leadership, in this case, is not just a matter of traits—persona, tough-mindedness, or bottom-line thinking. It’s about vision, direction, alignment, and inspiration—developing a purpose and future perspective, bringing together people in a common and committed effort, and moving people in the right direction despite many obstacles. Leadership at its core is concerned with outward thinking that embraces a future perspective; it inspires followers to establish a sense of ongoing direction. It’s about creating meaningful results with the help of many others who chose to subordinate a portion of their individually so all will benefit. The job, therefore, means flexibility and experimentation, developing a set of capabilities that are extensive, recombinant, and have been tested over time in different settings. A leader gets admiration and support from employees when he or she undertakes to plan with their full involvement. This participatory planning provides a sense of comfort to all interested parties that the exciting road ahead is reality-based and not just the unbridled ego of its architect. It enables them to confirm how major initiatives are being undertaken as a logical extension or evolution of its business essence rather than a haphazard reaction to conditions as they arise.

Mind the Gap: All difficult conversations share a common structure. Understanding the structure is essential to improving how you handle your most challenging conversations. Leaders need to understand not only what is said, but what is not said. Difficult conversations can be tough but are analytic and empathetic, peel the onion and look at why people resist, many of the problems stem from organizational culture. Sometimes it is not the conversation that creates the resistance, it may be the relationship between sender and receiver. You must seek to understand what people are thinking and feeling but not saying to each other. The gap between what you are thinking and what you are saying is part of what makes a conversation difficult. Relationships certainly impact conversations. Leaders have to create safe environments for followers to share openly and create inspiration among team members and to inspire them to make enthusiastic contributions.

Create discomfort: One of the leadership capacities is to get people out of their comfort zone to meet challenges and learn new skills. It is absolutely necessary for leaders to create discomfort and get others thinking differently. Some leaders use a counter argument in open discussions just to ensure multiple points of view are explored. However, there is always the right way to challenge others and it is never demeaning, always constructive. Life without challenges is boring and may lead to change inertia, negative attitudes, and poor behaviors accordingly. Unleashing talent potential is extremely important. Talent fosters curiosity and curiosity foster exploration, and it is that exploration that develops new products or new ways to delight customers. Appreciate and grow talent whenever you can, so the right dose of discomfort helps people out of comfort zone, encourage the “misfit’ thinking and spark creativity.  

There’s no magic formula for leadership effectiveness, vision, influence, empathy, creativity and learning agility are all key elements of digital leadership, leaders themselves must get out of their own comfort zone first, before inspiring the team to continuously learn and grow, to create such constructive discomfort for sparking creativity, challenging the status quo, and take extra effort to delight customers and improve organizational maturity.


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