My Problem-Solving workshops always bring a lot of laughter when leaders explore the good and the ugly of challenges they face in their workplaces. It is a great opportunity for participants to take a down and dirty look at ways to overcome roadblocks. In one of the programs we spent a great deal of time working on ways to improve communication flow from customers to team members. Information wasn’t being disseminated effectively so both customers and team members were constantly frustrated. In another organization only a small number of people ended up contributing to a solution and there wasn’t a great deal of buy-in. Although decisions were made, team members often did not utilize changes.
What can be so impactful in tackling problems is trying to approach the issue in a negative way. This technique, known as reverse brainstorming, assumes that the way to make things right is to first identify the things that are wrong. We list all the deficiencies of a policy, procedure or product and then brainstorm ways to overcome these shortcomings.
We can use the same technique if we want to grow our leadership. We can actually unravel our leadership to help us see the direction we want to move. When we unravel our leadership we can then create ways to rebuild it.
Here are four questions to unravel your leadership using reverse brainstorming:
1. WHAT CAN I DO TO MAINTAIN THE SAME COURSE?
Taking stock in ways to continue the same old leadership routine is a great exercise in seeing where we may be missing our target. Asking some of these critical questions can steer us to eventually challenge our current leadership model.
- What daily tasks will contribute to my status quo leadership path?
- Where am I spending most of my time?
- What responsibilities can I add that will completely topple my apple cart?
- What projects consume my brainpower?
2. HOW CAN I STOP LEARNING?
It is interesting to step back and see how you may be contributing to your stunted leadership growth. For example, evaluate what books you have decided to put back on the shelf (virtual or physical) and the reasons you stopped reading them. Or identify which conferences or networking events you aren’t signing up for this year and why you are passing on them. Identify additional ways you are preventing a growth mindset. This may give you insight into what is preventing you from learning new ideas.
3. AM I BEING OFFERED HELPFUL ADVICE?
How many times have we had a one-on-one with a mentor or colleague or boss and decided the counsel given was not helpful? Or maybe we met with someone and didn’t agree with their “take” of an area we needed to improve. Think about the advice you have recently received:
- Did you ignore it?
- Did you chalk it up to a frustrated co-worker?
- Did you see any truth in it or felt it was pure fiction?
- Did you allow your emotions to get in the way of hearing the words?
4. WHAT PART OF MY JOB IS MOST UNSATISFYING?
We all have aspects of our daily leadership responsibilities that we not only despise but tasks that drain our energy. Make a list of all of those activities and add a few more that would make you even more unsatisfied. Then look at each of those items and see how you can redo them or eliminate them so that your leadership day would be more meaningful.
How can you use reverse brainstorming to build a stronger leadership direction?