Opening windows to possibility and creativity

Imagine that you’re meeting with one of your employees. This person is managing people, and he has set a goal to develop leaders within his organization. He’s struggling with how to begin with this initiative and he’s asking for your help. You hear him say:

“People either want to be leaders or they want to be followers.”

It’s easy to agree with that statement, because our minds like to categorize things into neat tabbed and labelled folders. It’s human nature to believe that people (or projects, tasks, strategies, etc.) are either this or that; however, this limits choices. It’s so much more freeing to help open someone’s thinking to infinite, new, creative possibilities.

It would also be all too easy to tell your employee what you think (or what you think he should think). But that doesn’t help him to generate new ideas. It only leads him in the direction you want. He would be happier and more productive finding his own direction in this.

So, you want to help your employee to open a window to thinking about more possibilities; how do you do that?

Opening possibilities beyond the limits they’ve imposed

You might ask:

“If you knew that people could be almost anything, what else could they be?”

“If you were thinking broadly, what else is possible?”

(And in true Byron Katie fashion, you might also ask, “Is it true that people are either leaders or followers?”. And following that question, you can ask “What happens when you believe that?” and “Who would you be without that thought?”).

Your employee will walk away with new ideas on what it means for his efforts at developing leaders in his organization. These questions, with some rephrasing, can often get anyone unstuck on anything.

The questions can work on your own limited thinking processes too. If you find that you’re stuck between limited choices (and you want more than that), try asking yourself some of these questions.

Once you notice that you or your employees are limiting thinking with either/or, you can unleash creativity, possibility, and new potential. Listen and ask some of these questions that will open up new ideas.

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

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