As 2010 approaches, many leaders are asking new questions. Faced with a slumped economy, less manpower and growing concerns about what the next year will hold, the questions are becoming more complex and more fear-filled.
So, today, I want to just share with you 3 very simple “How To’s” to consider for 2010…just take a step back and consider a few of the basics.
1. HOW TO INNOVATE: Innovation is such a big buzzword today, so when something is a big buzzword, it means that it is important to the business landscape. Many people believe that people are just born as innovators. This may be somewhat true, but real innovation takes place through learning. If I have any advice on this topic it would be this:
- Get out there and talk to the 3 most innovative companies you know to find out how they come up with bright ideas that actually make it to the market and thrive in the marketplace.
- Study and read everything you can about an innovator you admire (Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs would be two I would start with).
- Talk to at least 12 people from different industries about one idea you are rolling around in your head (talk to an artist, scientist, physician, dancer, gardener, plumber, attorney, financial planner, nanny, stay at home mom…innovation does not happen in a vacuum, and it is critical to get out there and talk to a variety of people about your ideas to get your finger on the pulse of what is really bugging people/keeping them awake at night).
- Take a trip to a place like the Sharper Image or even Best Buy to test out the most current technology in their stores. Ask yourself “Why this?” and “Why didn’t they do this?”
- Spend time in an area/field that you know nothing about. Take up a new hobby like fishing, quilting, kickboxing, painting…anything that is new…new hobbies stimulate thinking and creativity.
2. HOW TO PICK YOUR BATTLES. Many people just don’t like conflict, and for some reason, they think that debate causes problems. Yet the leaders who really know how to use debate to their advantage are some of the most innovative, successful leaders in our world. The key is this…knowing what to fight for.
I would love to just tell you what is in this article, but rather than spell out the details, I would like to encourage everyone reading this post to buy a copy of the article How to Pick a Good Fight by HBR. I will just give you two suggestions from the article.
1. If the idea will save your company 15% or more of your resources over one year, the battle is worth fighting.
2. If the idea will grow your sales or acquire new customers faster than the market, the battle is worth fighting.
Believe me…this article is worth purchasing for anyone! The article includes another 20 ideas and an assessment for your company.
3. HOW TO GET YOUR ROOKIES TO LEAD. Your new employees are shining stars…fresh out of college, ready to set the world on fire, and what do most leaders do? They throw a big bucket of water on the fire and say “Hey…new kid…here’s how we do things around here!” Oh…that’s a smart idea (NOT!) It is time for everyone to understand that leadership development for your new employees is what will differentiate your company from your competitors in 2010. Here are a few suggestions:
- Find out what truly motivates your rookies. This is going to be different for each person (time off with family, basketball tickets, public acknowledgement, and so forth). Your job as a leader is to find out what really motivates your rookies and begin using that to get them on board.
- Begin implementing a state of the art leadership development program for your rookies. Many companies shy away from this, because they feel something like this “Why waste my development dollars on someone who is going to leave me in two years?” The answer: Because you want your rookies to be the best they can be and to sing your praises as they dance out the door. Your goal as a leader should be to train your rookies so well that other companies do try to recruit them away…but…if you are smart and you develop a great training and coaching program for them, they will think twice before leaving you. And…if they do, there is a good chance that once they experience the greener pastures they thought they wanted, they will come back to you in a few years.
- Open yourself up to learning AND to actually using the technology that your rookies are using to communicate (including text, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and so forth). In order to get your rookies to lead others, you have to be willing to communicate with them using the tools they are comfortable with and then pull them into the higher level leadership communication skills (face to face discussions, public presentations and face to face negotiations).
- Drop the talk about paying dues and climbing the corporate ladder…is a top turn-off for this rising generation.
- Ask your rookies for their ideas…invite them into the private meeting room to get their ideas on the table…this will be music to their ears and will inspire them to lead others in a way that is open and curious.
So, as 2010 rolls around, start looking closely at what you can do for the people of your organization…there is no better time than the present to start developing stronger relationships, better ways of communicating and of course…rock solid approaches to leadership and business development.