Out of the Box Leadership Development

I have spent more than 25 years working on leadership development (I know this comes as a shock since I look so young….but there you have it). I have learned that there are so many different ways to go about this and none of these ways is right or wrong. It all just depends upon the circumstances.

Today, I want to focus in on one area. I want to talk about an aspect of leadership development that is often overlooked… what I call ‘out of the box leadership development’.

What does ‘out of the box leadership development’ mean? Think of your current job as a box. You spend most of your time in that box, following a job description, working on your personal goals, etc.. While obviously this is what you are being paid to do, you can develop your leadership skills further by stretching and getting out of ‘the box’.

Start by looking at things not from only the box that is your job, but from a departmental standpoint. Walk in the shoes of others in your department. Spend time understanding what others on your team are doing. This will help you gain appreciation and trust for others in your group and will help you understand a slightly bigger picture.

Once you have spent time in your departmental box, I want to take you to take the next step and get out of that department box. Step into the whole organization box. When you do that, you’re going to learn what other people in the organization are experiencing. Your perspective will get even larger, you will start seeing things from the view of a top line executive.

Once you have stepped out of those boxes, there is an even bigger box to step out of. To truly grow as a high level leader, get outside of your organization. This can be within your industry, or even better, outside of your industry. There are many different ways to do this. Some examples include organizations such as chambers of commerce, industry organizations, or mastermind groups. Once you’re really able to step out of that organization box, you can really grow.

Think about what happens when you are growing within your organization. You are surrounded by people who do a lot of different things, but they’re all still working towards the same goal, they still face more or less the same types of issues. When you are able to step out of this box you’re going to be exposed to a broader array of problems and opportunities. It will create a great foundation for you to solve an even wider range of problems, by applying a diverse set of knowledge to your own issues. In other words, you will be expanding your toolkit!

My challenge to you this week is to think about leadership development in a different way. Think about how you can get outside of your box now and start truly growing.

As we all deal with the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus and its impact on our day to day lives, it's important to step back and take the time to care for ourselves. Here are some of the things that are worth consciously working on in the coming weeks.

SPEND TIME WITH LOVED ONES, especially children. In today’s busy world often our time with the ones we love gets put on the back burner. As events, activities, and schools cancel….and more and more people work at home, now is a great chance to get caught up with each other.

REDISCOVER THE SIMPLE THINGS. There was a time when we weren’t “on the clock” 24/7, when our children weren’t spending each evening in activities… when life was a routine. With much of that canceled for the near term, now is an opportunity to have family dinners, play games, read that book that you can never get to. Take a step back from the complications of the world. Take a breather.

FIND THE GOOD IN THINGS. We are bombarded all day and night with the negative things that are going on. There is much criticism over governments, mass hysteria, other nations, etc. But there are good stories out there as well. Stories of people helping people. While it's a shame that we have to work hard to find these, it is worth the effort.

Last, and most importantly, KEEP A POSITIVE MINDSET. It is so easy to succumb to the negativity that flows from a crisis such as this one. But keeping a positive mindset is one of the best things that you can do during this time. Positive energy will help you maintain your health, be productive, and reduce stress. Moreover, it is contagious. Everyone that you come in contact with (from 6 feet away of course) will be affected by your energy, even if just a little bit. And the more positive energy that is released into the world, the better this situation will be and the quicker it will resolve.


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