One of the most desirable traits of a smart leader is the ability to view problems as opportunities. Challenges, mistakes, lack of progress or failure can spur professionals to make adjustments and move in a different direction. Setbacks are opportune reasons to disrupt thinking and pivot to new ways or better ideas.
Problem situations beget change, yet change, for most people, is hard. When the need to change arises, how can we move toward it in the fastest way possible?
Consider these six tips to help professionals move faster towards positive change.
- Be ready and open to thinking differently. Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” If you are not getting the results you want and you recognize that you are doing things in the same old way, it’s time to change how you think. Looking at an issue from a different perspective or a fresh outlook may be just the modification to help you find a better path. Thinking differently also means striving to attain a growth mindset. People with growth mindsets are open to learning and change. Leaders with growth mindsets believe that their own talents – and those of other as well – can be further developed through hard work, good strategies, and regular feedback.
- Manage your limiting self-talk and perfectionist tendencies. The speed of change depends on your ability to resist the negative stories you tell yourself that may hold you back. Don’t beat yourself up. Learn from your mistakes. Restrictive internal thoughts, by nature, will inhibit your decision making, increase your self-consciousness, and limit movement towards change. If you can resist negativity, you will be able to get back on the path to fast and real change. Perfectionism can slow change efforts, too. Perfectionism is tough to let go because many people see perfectionist tendencies as a positive trait. Perfectionists prefer to be 100% certain before making a fault-free decision, thus avoiding the risk and criticism that may come with that decision. To overcome perfectionist tendencies, push yourself to be more timely and reduce your need for full data and information before making a move or decision.
- Do things in a different way. After thinking differently comes trying different actions. If your old approaches are not working, be willing to try something new. Shake things up. Try things you don’t generally do. Watch and learn from others who do things better than you do. Keep track of what works and what doesn’t work. Transformation does not occur when you fall into the trap of doing things the way they have always been done.
- Change the people you listen to. Be circumspect of advisors who constantly give you the same stale or unoriginal thoughts and are not willing to embrace new ideas. If they are like this, it is time to look for new advisors. Search for great advisors with wide-ranging experiences that fit what you need and who come at challenges and opportunities differently than you do. Diversity in your advisors will bring diversity of thought and, most likely, faster change and better results.
- Be willing to make changes to your team. Just as you evaluate the advice you receive, you want to ensure you are regularly evaluating your team. You need the right team around you in order to succeed. The people on your team should be adaptable, flexible and enthusiastic to learn and do. Your incumbent team members could be exactly what you need if they are adaptable, want to grow and are willing to put in the effort needed. Realistically though, sometimes you will need to change out some members of your team. (Tip: If you bring on new people to your team, resist hiring people who are exactly like you.)
- Celebrate victories, no matter how big or small. It is all right to pat yourself on the back and celebrate when you have done something well, especially when you have done something successfully that was out of your comfort zone. Give yourself some positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement will motivate you afterward to repeat those behaviors.
If you want change and you want it to happen sooner rather than later, begin by looking in the mirror because the starting point is you. Be careful to not get caught up in your fears, in self-doubt, or in deflecting blame because those detractors will slow you down. Pivoting for change and innovation will be accelerated by your attitude to change.