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Leaders grow by getting comfortable being uncomfortable

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Three ways to get started

By Angie Grissom

The best leaders in business get comfortable with being uncomfortable. They know that what once worked for their business may not always continue to work. People in an organization who cause the most damage are not the unproductive employee but the person in a leadership position who holds on dearly to the way things used to be and refuses to explore new ways of solving problems.

Albert Einstein once said, “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”

What are some practical ways to interrupt our daily decision-making process and mix things up a little? Here are three ways to get started.

  1. Ask for help from employees. Consider the two biggest challenges you are facing in your business right now. Maybe the challenges are around product or service delivery, or even competition in technology. Enlist the help of a team of three or four people and ask them to make a recommendation to you for how they would solve the issue. This does a few things. First, it enables you to stretch your thinking and get new insights you may have never considered. Second, it gives team members an opportunity to engage and become more invested in the solution. Do you have a problem in mind that you need to solve? Many leaders feel uncomfortable asking for help. It is also natural to feel uncomfortable considering out of the box solutions. In order to grow as a leader, you must consider both.
  2. Use ground-floor thinking. Ask, “If I were to restart this business today, what things would be different?” Make a list and get to work determining why you feel this way and what you can do about it. Do this even if you are not the owner of the business. Some questions you may consider are, “Would you handle the pricing and packaging of your product differently?” “What can you do about that now?” The best leaders look for ways to improve things constantly. Can it be exhausting? You bet. Is it rewarding? Absolutely. The future of the business depends on it.
  3. Ask questions. Get curious. Question everything, all the time. Go to lunch with your employees, ask them how things are going and be open to hearing their responses. You may be surprised at what you learn. There may be an opportunity to improve an area in your business or offer additional support for an employee in need. Meet with your top vendors and ask them how they are working with other companies. Is there an opportunity for an introduction or a best practice idea you aren’t aware of? Ask your clients what their plans are for the future. Maybe an opportunity exists for you to be a larger part of it. Could it feel awkward for the first 10 minutes of one of these meetings, especially if it is your first one? Sure. But it will feel more comfortable as you go, and the result will be communication, trust and breakthrough ideas for your business.

Unproductive employees usually never make it to a position where their impact can be devastating, but leaders who fail to be adaptive can have a devastating impact on their organizations. The best way to be adaptive is to push yourself constantly to question the status quo, stay aware of what is happening around you and enlist the help of others. It is imperative that when you learn from doing these things, you commit to changing what needs to be changed. This makes it easier to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Then, watch your business grow and thrive

LEA_Changes Leaders GrowAngie Grissom is president of The Rainmaker Cos. Visit www.therainmakercompanies.com or reach her at Angie@TheRainmakerCompanies.com
or (615) 373-9880, ext. 232.