In Change, Leaders

“A mind is like a parachute.  It doesn’t work if it’s not open.” – Frank Zappa

It goes without saying that the world we’re currently living in does not resemble anything most of us have seen before.  Whether it’s customers, employees, the supply chain, financial markets, or any number of other things, everything around us seems to be turned upside down.  There seems to be no end to the challenges we’re facing.

As I see leaders try to navigate this environment, a few things stand out.  First, while being tired and stressed is to be expected, the best leaders aren’t sitting around complaining about everything they’re dealing with.  They understand that leading is going to be about facing challenges and dealing with them, and they choose to view today’s world as just an amped up version of that reality.

The other thing that is apparent is that when you’re faced with new problems, you need new solutions.  I see too many leaders trying to solve problems by doing things that worked ten years ago and hoping for similar results.  Rarely does that work.

I’m not suggesting that everything you’ve ever done before is wrong, or that there are no ideas from the past that are ever useful.  What I’m suggesting is that you need to view any potential solution as a possibility.  Too many people hear new ideas and immediately try to figure out why that idea won’t work.  We need to hear new ideas and immediately try to figure out how this could be a solution to our problems.

That doesn’t mean that every idea is a good one.  It means that every idea might be a good one, and you better not write any of them off until you’ve at least considered them.  That might mean exploring things that you’ve previously said you wouldn’t do.

I don’t mean making ethical sacrifices.  I mean perhaps you need to try to reach your customers in a way that feels uncomfortable, or create some kind of work experience for your employees that looks completely different than what it has been, or perhaps providing a product or service in a way that you’ve never been very excited about.  Look for ways to change, not for reasons not to.

What idea have you always ignored that might now be a fit?  What strategy have you put off because it just didn’t feel right?  Now might be the time.  Everything is changing.  You should be too.

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