Hitting a roadblock when it comes to reaching the next level of business growth?
Five ways to unlock your hidden
By Charlie Fleetham
Whether you're leading a JSE listed company or a four-employee start-up, all
business owners have one thing in common: you confront roadblocks to innovation
on a daily basis. One of the greatest challenges facing today's entrepreneurs is
finding and growing the type of innovative thinking your companies need to
survive. But with the right approach, you can uncover hidden leadership and
strategic capabilities in both you and your employees. Sceptical? Don't be.
Here are five key ways to unleash the hidden potential in your business and achieve high levels of success:
1. Think two generations ahead
Visualise your company 50 or even 100 years from now, even if you don't foresee your product or service lasting that long. Such forward-looking reflection creates an umbrella for long-term innovation to occur.
Working back from your 50- or 100-year vision plan in 10-year increments, ask and answer the critical "who, what, where, when, why and how" questions about your business. For instance, who will your target demographic be; what will your core products and business focus be; where will your office(s) and facilities be located (nationally or globally); when will key business milestones be achieved, why will your business matter 10, 15 or 50 years from now, and how are you going to achieve your business goals?
2. Confront and partner with the unconscious
Experts suggest that of all the experiences, knowledge and data stored in our minds, we are only "conscious" of, and actively use just 10 percent of it. The other 90 percent resides in our unconscious – it's this part of our mind we can tap into for valuable insights.
Daily, for the next 21 days, write one paragraph about some aspect of your leadership process that you want to improve. For example, let's say you find it difficult to take negative feedback from your customers. The more you write about the situation, the more you'll tap your unconscious for innovative ideas about solving the problem.
3. Aim to increase energy, not just efficiency
Do a quick energy audit of your employees to understand what energises the staff and fuels their personal growth. If you understand what energises them, you'll be able to implement actions that motivate your employees and increase productivity.
Ask every employee to identify the three things that energise him or her the most about their jobs. Also ask them to identify the things they're not currently doing that would energise them. Then match your employees to the energising activities that best fit their talents and skills and needs.
Also ask your staff to identify the three things that sap their energy, such as meetings or preparing reports. Help your management team reduce the activities that de-energise the workplace.
4. Establish the freedom to innovate
Creativity drives change, so tap into your employees' intuitive side by ritualising "ingenuity time" on the job. Utilising creative techniques can often help people see issues more clearly and open doors to potential solutions.
Set aside enough money in your budget for your team to compete for an industry-related contest. It will keep your top people on their toes.
Encourage people to draw a diagram or depiction of their business problem or challenge in the form of a character or situation (such as a person headed into a storm or an animal confronting a group of hostile animals). Then ask that they sketch the conclusion they think would resolve the matter. Seeing their problem put to life often helps people envision the best solution.
Enable and encourage your employees to volunteer for community projects and social events to round out their work-life balance in meaningful ways.
5. Start all problem-solving by taking responsibility
Any problem you're directly involved with that you wish to solve requires reflection on your role and responsibility related to that problem. While you may not be the primary cause of the problem, reflecting on your role will help you better understand and acknowledge how you may have contributed to it.
When you have a problem employee, start the fix by asking yourself: "What changes do I have to make in myself to help this person perform better?" You may not always identify something that needs changing, but the mere matter of asking and spending some time reflecting will make you a better leader.
When you have to deliver bad news, like a layoff, be sure you tell the survivors what you're doing to retain and reward the employees remaining and keep the lines of communication open so that people are aware of key company developments.
Charlie is the author of The Search for Unrational Leadership: Using Rational & Irrational Methods to Change Your Life. © Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.