Perhaps you’re one of the lucky leaders who’ve had someone in your life that inspired you to think bigger. Look back at those moments when you had an insight into something that you could build, create, begin or complete. Someone you know opened a window that let the fresh air of a dormant dream take you in a new direction.
What was it about this person that sparked your insight? What did they do that provoked you to dream bigger than you would have on your own? I’ll bet I can guess, and the behaviors you notice are some that might help you and your team to dream bigger too.
Thinking bigger can help to create a greater vision and goals for your organization as well as help individual team members to set personal development and organizational goals with more ease. When you as the leader dream bigger, you can help others to do so as well. Some thoughts to get started:
Engage in the world around you differently. Try things you haven’t tried before, meet people you’ve never met, read books that you wouldn’t normally read and go to places you haven’t gone. Get outside of your comfort zone. When you stretch yourself, new thinking happens and big ideas can be fostered. Small ways to incorporate this into your everyday world might include doing some community service, volunteering to work with a non-profit, and setting an intention to learn new things at that next conference.
Block out thinking time. I sense your resistance to this one. You may think you are paid to take action, or you may believe you don’t have the time to daydream. After all, blocking out time to think feels unproductive. Yet the further up the organizational ladder you rise, the more you’re expected to think bigger and to bring others along with you. Start small if you wish – 15 minutes a day. Use that time to set an intention at the start of your day to do something – anything – that is not part of your usual routine; use it at the end of the day to assess your progress on dreaming bigger dreams.
Ask big wide-open questions. Have you noticed that when you ask questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”, it shuts down thinking in others? Instead, ask questions that start with the word “what” and notice how their big thinking wheels turn: “What values will define our organization?”, “What kind of leader do you want to be?”, “What goals can we set that will stretch us?” and “What has to happen for us to be fully committed to reaching our goals?” are the kind of questions that help others to dream bigger.
Respect and encourage others’ ideas. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable with ideas that may differ from your own. You don’t have to agree with them all of the time – but you do need to stop accepting only the ideas that you agree with. Listen without judgment and respect the fact that your team is trying to think bigger; thank them for their ideas and let them percolate. You just might find a gem or two that will be useful.
Be the instrument for fanning the flames of bigger dreams as you foster it yourself and encourage it in others!