Unravel Your Leadership To Soar

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:


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?


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.


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?


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?




6 thoughts on “Unravel Your Leadership To Soar

  1. Your questions made me smile. How can I stay on the same path and stop learning? This is a great technique to help people get unstuck by taking a close look at those places where they didn’t even know they were stuck! This is fantastic and one to both use and share.


  2. I do find reverse brainstorming a great strategy for thinking of our challenges in a different way. When we reflect negatively on our problems it can sometimes highlight exactly where we need to make changes. Reverse brainstorming shows us how we may be contributing to an on-going obstacle. I would love to hear if it works for you!
    Thanks Kaylene for sharing your insights!

  3. I’m glad I made you smile. This is such a fun and effective tool to help all of us tackle our problems. I agree that when we see how we may be adding to a stuck situation we can start the process of redoing and realigning our leadership. There is always laughter with this one in my workshops.

    Thanks as always Alli!

  4. Great Post Terri!

    I recently visited with someone that was craving only positive feedback from someone in her life. As we visited it was clear that the feedback she has been receiving has challenged her and caused her to grow.

    A few months prior I visited with someone that was struggling with a news article she had read that was challenging the leadership in her nation. After working past the hurt – she did find threads of truth that she could agree – needed work.

    It is a great skill to be able to leverage the helpful advice even if it has been packaged in a way that is challenging for us to hear.

  5. It is often the negative perspectives that help us grow the most. Your friend who only wanted to receive positive feedback was probably in great need of a “kick in the pants” advice which led her to see her current situation differently. Brainstorming ways to maintain an unsatisfying leadership strategy can truly give us insight into what we need to change to propel ourselves forward.

    Thanks Chery for sharing your wonderful stories!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *