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Great Leaders Simplify Complexity

Innovate to Simplify a Winning Strategy

There’s been a quiet revolution happening in corporate America and many still have not accepted the invitation to the party. Every year the world becomes more complex and new technologies arrive that make certain tasks easier at the cost of hidden complexity. No one enjoys struggling with complexity. With too many outdated processes and too much to do as technology moves you more and more into doing other things, you need to focus on what matters most.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein

Every leader wants simplicity in your organization. If so, start embracing complexity first. Some have called complexity the silent killer of growth. Take a look at your own company and see for yourself what holds your employees back from the work you hired them to do. How many emails do they receive and respond to or how many scheduled and unscheduled meetings are they required to attend.

Some people overcomplicate even the simplest tasks. These self-imposed ways of trying to get things done need to be looked at for change. Maybe you feel comfortable adding extra to an already complicated system that no one else is able to get anything done.

“The simpler we can make things, the more understanding and beliefs our teams will have which will help improve their efficiency and effectiveness which generate better results.”

-Gordon Tredgold

The impact of simplicity has a lot to do with complacency and complexity. How much and how long you stay still doing the same things to get the same results is what needs to be noticed before you see what is working and not working. You often get bogged down in what is happening. Things that have worked for you in the past may no longer be enough to solve what you need to get done now.

Simplification is a Key Ingredient for Your Success

“To complicate is easy. To simplify is difficult.” – Bruno Munari

How many times have your executives told you or have heard this from others that you need to “Simplify” in order to get things done. So much gets tangled with unnecessary things that it takes some thinking time to untangle what you have for simplifying what you need.

When you engage in simplicity, you have to begin to think about what really matters. One of the greatest compliments you can ever receive is that you have “the ability to simplify complexity”. It is rare to hear anyone to say that to others.

An easy starting point for simplification is to get rid of stupid rules and low-value activities, time-wasters that exist in abundance in most organizations. If you can shed a few tasks, you will create focus and time allowed to work on opportunities.

Take an Outside-in Perspective

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – General Colin Powell

One thing we all want is simplicity.  Great leaders take complex strategies and simplify them down into key messages and action items that everyone can follow. Simplicity is fast becoming the competitive advantage of our time.

Leaders need to take an outside perspective to see how simplification can drive the need to add value to your organization- internally and externally. Reassess your organization’s processes, meetings and employees to see if they are up to the challenge. Eliminate or modify how complexity is inefficient and ineffective that stops your employees from getting things accomplished better than they have been.

The Butterfly Effect

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The butterfly effect describes the small change in one part of a system can have a significant impact to other parts of a system elsewhere. Leaders need to possibly adopt this within your own company.

Complexity requires a different kind of leadership. In order to create new ways of leading, we first need to let go of some of our old beliefs about what makes a good leader.

“Simplicity. Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.” – Leo Babauta

Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize

Prioritize what’s really important and what’s not. One of the keys to simplification is to figure out what’s really important (and what’s not), and continually reassess the priority list as new things are added. Take the shortest path from here to there. Once it’s clear that you are working on the right things, root out the extra steps in core processes. Where are the extraneous loops, redundancies, and opportunities to make our processes as lean as possible?

Stop Being So Nice

One of the patterns that causes or exacerbates complexity is the tendency to not speak up about poor practices. This is particularly true when people hesitate to challenge more senior people who unintentionally cause complexity through poor meeting management, unclear assignments, unnecessary emails, over-analysis, or other bad managerial habits. To counter this, use constructive feedback.

“You get a competitive edge by doing something every day your competition don’t or won’t!

-Billy Cox

Great leaders live to eliminate or simplify the complex, while average leaders allow themselves and those they lead to be consumed by it. Complexity stifles innovation, slows development, gates progress, and adversely impacts culture. Complexity is expensive, inefficient, and ineffective. …great leaders understand opportunity and profits are extracted from complexity through simplification, not by adding to the complexity.”

Many of our organizations are way more complex than they need to be. In his blog on startup businesses, David Cummings wrote, “Great leaders take complex strategies and simplify them down into key messages and action items that everyone can follow.”

Complexity doesn’t automatically resolve itself. Some organizations endeavor re-design from time to time, but the work is typically limited in scope and stays inside functional boundaries. Results are more assured when the initial work is well planned and executed with precision.

What else? What are your thoughts on great leaders being able to simplify complexity?

Leaders Start an Innovation Revolution in Your Company

Kill Your Company for Innovation
Every business leader agrees that creativity and innovation is important. Telling your employees that you want to hear their ideas, but not telling them you will consider any of them keeps your company’s status quo just where it is. Companies know they have to be creative and innovative in order to encourage their teams to embrace change.
There are many pieces to the innovation puzzle and they will come together differently for each organization. “Risk-taking is central to innovation”, says futurist and change expert Lisa Bodell. Powerful techniques can help you Kill Your Business and then reinvent it for greater innovation.

Don’t Let Corporate Antibodies Kill Your Best Ideas
The corporate antibodies of your company don’t want things to change as they police, prevent and protect the company from moving forward. They like to stay complacent and believe “Everything is fine”. They are secure in their job and don’t want that to change.
Too many organizations are “stuck in the land of status quo”. The very structures you put in place to help your organization grow are what now hold you back. This is the time when you need a new approach to think and change your organization. If not, you may find your competition take over what’s left of what you built.
If employee ideas fail to be accepted, this is one place you need to look at carefully for why your company is not moving forward.
As leader of your company you don’t want to see your clients and customers leave yet this is what is happening. Your competitors win while you lose. Something has to give.

Kill Dumb Rules
Everyone has the power to innovate. Everyone needs to realize they are creative also.
Any rules that stop or slow innovation needs to either be killed or changed. Encourage employees to regularly seek these rules out. Identify one rule you want to kill and why.

Start Asking Thought-Provoking Questions
Start re-thinking, question and take some risks to get you in the right direction.
Asking the same types of questions and generating the same ideas over and over again. You need to reverse the way you think. By asking questions you shake people up to start thinking. This in-turn has people to generate ideas that are not the ordinary routine kinds of things. Otherwise, people will continue to go about their ordinary day and not work so much.

Challenge Assumptions and Beliefs
Brilliant ideas employees generate could set your company on the road to thriving beyond your expectation.
The problem with assumptions and beliefs is that they typically go unchallenged. You need to get out of your way by challenging them. This is what stops you from moving forward. Don’t dismiss the notion that innovation will have no impact on your company. You have the best resource assets right in front of you- Your Employees. Take advantage of them.
Start changing your assumptions and beliefs about your company. Shift the mindset of your employees for greater creative thinking. Question your company and how you conduct business. Ask yourself, what inhibits innovation in your company?

Collaboration is the Catalyst for Innovation
To get an innovative idea off the ground, organizations must establish create an environment where employees and customers can develop fresh ideas, encounter new ways of thinking, and share feedback. Since most change start from the middle, your teams need to cooperate well enough to work on what change they see that needs to be improved.

Start removing unnecessary red tape and begin rethinking your company. Now is the time to address your strengths, weaknesses what’s working and what’s not, and anything that gets in your way from generating ideas for creative and innovative changes. Look to Kill Your Company in order to reinvent your company to thrive beyond survival mode.

Take it to the next level and start an innovative revolution

Catalyst Leadership for Creative Innovation

Sparking Change in Your Leadership

“Change does not surface when you are not ready to be the catalyst. Your reaction matters, not your inaction.”
― Michael Bassey Johnson

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Catalyst Leader?

Change leaders are a unique breed. Accepting the challenge to change from a traditional workplace, a handful of leaders decided to take up the challenge and turn their workplace into an unconventional way of doing business. Employees are able to produce greater results with a creative leader than with a traditional leader who is not will to thrive beyond survival mode.

Let’s start from the beginning. A leader is someone who leads others to an end-goal through a vision you have for producing a specific result. On the other hand, a catalyst is a reaction to something added to change what you started with. A catalyst, in the context of leadership, is a person who causes change and growth to happen. The leader must act as a catalyst for change and when you engage in creative thinking to bring about change, such as ideas, solutions, new concepts. Leaders need to learn how to manage their own creative thinking, as well as those they work with, to bring about productive change for new products, services, resolution to problems, opportunities.

Being a Catalyst Starts with You
As a leader, being a change maker requires you to inspire and move others to action. Identify blind spots and obstacles that prevent greater productivity and breakthrough results from occurring.
Sooner or later, leaders in the company will recognize change must come or they are forced into it as the risk of losing quality people starts to become a reality. Developing a plan for personal and professional growth needs to extend to your employees.
Knowing who you are and letting your employees see that is a plus. Having your employees see that you are a courageous risk taker with calculated risks teaches your employees to do the same. They need to see you confident in allowing them to take the lead on projects. This is a trust you place in them.

Decision makers usually think of decision situations as problems to solve, not as opportunities to take advantage of.”
– Ralph L. Keeney

Leadership as a Catalyst for Creativity
Exploring creativity as a catalyst for change leadership, as a leader you need to get to know your employee’s skills and talent. By understanding their creative abilities you are able to create work teams of people from diverse backgrounds. These individuals have their own preferences of how they think, generate ideas, make things happen, behave, complete their work and get along with like and unlike minded people. It is only then the leader allows this collaborative team to generate ideas and solve their problems, challenges and difficulties you assign to them.

Characteristics of Catalyst Leaders include Courage, Inspiring others, not conforming to traditional and looking for unconventional ways of greater breakthrough results, Drivers of change, Visionaries, and Catalysts are different in how they see the world and create value.

Giving Employees Actionable Feedback
Before you start critiquing your team members, think about how they performed on the latest project. When giving feedback, also give suggestions and direction on how they can improve and get to the next level. Don’t just give a compliment or critique and leave it at that. Add your thoughts and opinions. Finally, frame what you say in a positive way for the employee to respond and grow on what you tell them.

Being a trailblazer for change is not easy. Grow and change how you show up as a leader. Having a mindset that is growth oriented. While there is no one-size fits all approach to leadership creative leaders demonstrate certain types of actions that fit your style. Creative catalysts move your organization to creative and innovative change and growth.

Getting Comfortable Taking Innovation Risks

Is Bravery at the Top of Your Leaders’ Qualities List?

Working with creative ideas in order to create and then produce a breakthrough result most leaders don’t realize you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Being used to leading your employees in the traditional, routine work they have been doing is easy knowing their specific processes to achieve the end-result. Shifting your organization from traditional to unconventional takes on more understanding of what needs to happen on the creative side.

“Those who do not take chances are on the path to “guaranteed failure”.
– Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

By shifting into the non-traditional mode, you need to understand what it takes to work using creative ideas for innovative breakthroughs. Leaders need to feel more comfortable with taking risks. If you do nothing and your status quo stays the same, you are taking a bigger risk than being innovation. You are aware your organization needs to change or it will stay afloat for some time and then cease to exist. You know you need to take a risk to change with the times. In today’s innovation economy, this means everything you do as a leader changes your entire organization. There are several things you need to shift gears on besides the obvious business ways of getting things done. If any leader is to be successful, he/she must be willing to take some risks.

Shift Your Mindset
Generating a new idea or approaching a new angle to a product needs you to embrace a growth mindset. This helps you be more open to the things around you and to the ideas generated for solving what problems, challenges and difficulties you encounter.
Challenge yourself to think differently and not being afraid of failure to take a risk. The more you question and challenge yourself, the more you are able to see things from a different perspective.

“Doing things the way they’ve always been done is the ‘most risky thing you can probably do’”
– Bill Aulet

Inspired Leaders Leading Employee’s Risk
Risks are a necessary part of moving your business forward. Embrace the unknown for new projects to innovate. Risk-taking is critical in the business world. Without it, ideas would be would be impossible to create and produce. Leaders encouraging risk-taking in your employee’s shows support by the leader. Empower your employees to make their own decisions, generate ideas and solve problems, challenges and difficulties.

Going Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Stepping out of your comfort zone in order to be innovative needs you to take a risk to explore yourself more within your creative environment. Having courage and self-confidence allows you to step out of your comfort zone. Risk-taking builds employee confidence. Anyone who is too afraid to step outside their comfort zone is also too afraid to take the risks that are often needed as a leader. Successful leaders know that they must get out of their comfort zone to succeed.

Never Stop Experimenting
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
– Pablo Picasso

Experimentation for many leaders is where you must repeatedly reinvent your business on a consistent basis due to the way business climate changes. By doing this, it challenges you as a leader and your employees for learning new ways to innovate breakthrough results.
You need to effectively marry creative ideas with execution for innovation. Business leaders need to set experimentation processes in place. This helps employees create and produce breakthrough results.

Start Keeping a Journal or Notebook
By carrying a journal or notebook, notice everything around you. Write down your thoughts, ideas and opinions of what you see and think about. This will be a great reference point for now or at another time when you need it.

“Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.”
– H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Seize the opportunities to create and innovate with the risks you need to grow and make your business better than it has been. Taking risks helps you lead new capabilities, processes and it gives your employees the opportunity to use their creative thinking skills and talent. Going beyond from where you have been allows leaders the chance to explore your own creative leadership skills. Leaders need to accept the responsibility of taking on the risk to execute an idea. This needs to feel comfortable to you and help move your organization forward.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

To Be or Not to Be Creative

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” – Edward de Bono

To be or not to be creative, that’s the question. Before you decide not to be creative, read the following and see how it fits for you.

Fill Your Mind with Many Questions to answer. Start Seeking Answers.
I was recently on a flight from Philly to Phoenix when I noticed the person seated next to me who got a few bags of pretzels. He opened the bags and stacked as many of them as possible into what looked like a fortress. At that point I asked him if he considered himself to be creative. He said “No. I sometimes like making shapes of things with whatever I have at the moment. I told him this is creativity. He did not believe me until I told him I’m a creativity coach. After a few minutes in conversation, he took out his notebook and drew a picture of a person with lot of detail. This event is the result of this article.

More and more organizations, especially start-ups, need employees to be creative. As leader of your organization you hire people who can demonstrate their creative skills and talent by their creative thoughts, ideas and opinions. They key in this is can you execute the ideas for breakthrough results. If an employee is not creative it will be much more difficult for them to let go of the past and accept unconventional ways of doing things.

“Making the simple complicated is easy. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” – Charles Mingus

Many people believe that those who are creative are gifted even though this is not true. Those who are considered as not being creative either don’t want to change or you sabotage yourself with excuses. In reality, everyone is creative and a problem-solver. Have employees who believe they are not creative write down all of the accomplishments they have done. Then have them write down all problem solving situations they’ve been involved in. Most people don’t count figuring out solving puzzles, how to avoid a detour to work and back home, situations they made things work in the workplace, or find another menu item at breakfast, lunch or dinner at a restaurant than ran out of their favorite first choice.

Instead, on a routine traditional basis try changing one thing in your routine that gives you better results more efficiently. What are you willing to task a small risk in doing? Few people may notice. At the same time only you know what the small change is.
Trying to see how creative you are is the key plus practice, practice and more practice. The more positive you are in doing the possible the greater your results will be. Too many people know how to draw or even doodle when you feel bored in a meeting or while on the phone. These things by themselves actually are creative they might not be the specific thoughts, ideas or opinions your company wants, yet it gets you to use your creativity skills.

Carry a Journal or Notebook
Write down any thoughts, ideas and opinions for future reference. Being able to write down creative ideas whenever you get them is a great start to fueling your creativity.

Fueling Your Creative Skills with Talent
No matter how you express your creativity you need to have the courage to be confident enough to express your creative thoughts, ideas and opinions. One struggle many people have is how courageous and confident you are about your creative abilities. Step outside of your comfort zone a little at a time as this will help you be more comfortable with getting uncomfortable.

Inspiration Fuels Your Creativity
Ask a lot of questions to help trigger other thoughts, ideas and opinions. These questions need to be thought-provoking in order for you to think differently. To be or not to be creative, that’s the question. Keep questioning for greater creative thoughts, ideas, opinions and understanding.

Don’t let an idea slump ruin your next big breakthrough. Find a Creative Outlet. Before you channel and fuel your creativity understand that you are creative and how creative you are depends on how much time and effort you put into a project. Don’t give up. Take the risk.

“Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” – William Plomer

Business Leaders Need to Be More Creative

“The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture
where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued.”
– Ken Robinson

Running a company is not what it used to be. Gone are the days when employees had a manager or supervisor tells them what to do and how to do their work. Today many organizations work in teams and know what assignments to work on. Their team members are creative and innovative. From time-to-time the organization’s leaders come by to see what the team is working on. Sometimes the leader knows little of what the team is working on as long as they complete the assignments they are given.

If creativity is so crucial for your business what’s your real reasons why you don’t embrace it instead of giving excuses? In 2010, about 60% of the CEOs polled by IBM cited creativity as the most important leadership quality, compared with 52% for integrity and 35% for global thinking.

Too many executives think all they have to do is to let others manage or supervise assignments and projects and everything else will be fine. The problem is not as simple as that. Business leaders have been saying for some time that their organization needs to be creative and innovative yet nothing much if at all has been done to move this forward.

Executives want employees to be creative but give excuses for needing this to take place. The issue with this is that many organizations are losing market share to your competitors who have already embraced creativity and innovation. They are thriving and you are stagnant.
“A study by Adobe and Forrester Consulting found that 82 percent of companies believe there is a strong connection between creativity and business results”. – Nicole Fallon

How Vital is Creativity to the Leader
The importance of creativity to business leaders is the difference between surviving and thriving beyond survival mode. Creative leadership with employees is a unique relationship. The impact both make on each other is powerful enough to warrant leaders to understand more about creativity and how it impacts your bottom line.

Being a “co-creative leader” in the case of leaders needing to be more creative is someone who is capable of understanding the creative ideas employees generate. This type of leader creates conditions that enable team members to create and produce breakthrough results.
The mindset leaders need to accept aside from your leadership responsibilities is that of harnessing your own knowledge and that of your employees to allow you to stimulate and inspire the work environment.

“You have to say no to a lot of good things in order to be able to say yes to a lot of great things.”
-Dexa Muamar

Leadership Direction for Projects
Understanding your own skills and talent helps you understand the creative skills and talent of your employees. With creativity and innovation letting your employees to generate ideas and the solutions for the work assigned shows your teams that you trust them. For many employees if the leader doesn’t allow them to use their creative thinking skills and talent, they get frustrated. After frustration, they become stressed. Then the talented employee leaves.

Leaders know creativity and innovation are the lifeblood of their organization. Not all assignments and projects need the company leader to specifically lead employees to the end of the project. Sit in from time-to-time to get a better understanding of the team member’s process and progress in getting things done. Don’t judge or criticize. Ask questions if you don’t understand something.

“Leadership is the ability to galvanize the creative genius of those you lead.”
–Jonathan Michael Bowman

Taking a Risk
As a leader, you are probably used to taking risks on projects you know will work. Working with a new breed of product &/or service you may feel uncomfortable with creativity and innovation. This is because there is no step-by-step approach or no specific formula or recipe in generating an idea or in creating and producing creative or innovative results.

Forcing Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone
Because creativity and innovation is not a routine you can count on, you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learning to become more creative pushes you outside your comfort zone. You may be used to the routine responsibilities you have as a leader, yet creativity is a different breed of how to work. There is no routine, step-by-step formula or recipe. It primarily comes through by thinking creatively.

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
– Henry Ward Beecher

Giving up control of telling employees what to do and how to get things done allows your employees to generate their own ideas and solutions for the assignments given to them. This helps leaders trust employees and to get involved in your teams work by asking questions to understand what your teams are doing. By doing this your employees feel you are feeling comfortable with the work they perform.

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook

Creativity Exercise

Do You Know How Powerful You Are?

It’s time for a creative writing exercise! You need to boost your creativity. Essentially, those of you who believe you are not creative this one’s for you.

“Technology, like art, is a soaring exercise of the human imagination.” – Daniel Bell

Boost your creative thoughts, ideas and opinions through writing. Remember when you were in elementary and maybe junior high school you had to use your creative mind to write a story about various things. Here’s your chance to challenge yourself and write about anything you want that is of interest to you. Most people don’t realize that when given the opportunity they can speak in public on a favorite topic they know about without experiencing anxious or nervous feelings. This is because they focus on what they are talking about.

This is the same thing where you get to choose your favorite creative topic and write what you want in a creative way. If you don’t want to write, painting or drawing might be more of your cup of tea. Either way, you need to challenge yourself as they world around you is becoming more and more on the creative, technologically innovative side of things. It’s not the way things used to be.

“A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.”
-Richard Branson

Rediscover Your Creative Self
Prepare yourself for more changes as the world spins faster with new things coming out in a blink of an eye. Be part of the creative changes taking place or you will be lost. Unleash your creative thoughts, ideas and opinions that you’ve held for so long. Give them an opportunity to expand and express who you are through them.

“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.”
-Albert von Szent-Gyorg

Start with Why
Since there is no litmus test for creativity, you have to start experimenting with ideas you combine and see how well they work together. If it works well, great. If it doesn’t work well, then it’s back to the old drawing board for finding the right combination. Look for related and unrelated things that just might work together. Ask thought-provoking questions to help you with going outside the status-quo.

“When all think alike, then no one is thinking.” – Walter Lippman

Work Your Strengths
Take a few minutes and think about what your true strengths are. Do they rely on the work you do currently, or do they yearn for something more exciting? Creativity can be the excitement you are looking for. If your thoughts go into overdrive and look toward creative ideas, maybe you need to take a look in that direction. If your current job seems boring as you work doing the same thing every day just to earn a paycheck, your brain is telling you to look elsewhere. It may not be creativity you may need to find something you can feel good about and to use more of your skills and talent.

“Creativity is just connecting things…” – Steve Jobs

Creativity plays a crucial role in achieving satisfaction and excellence in anything you do. Unlocking your real potential may actually go beyond what you do currently. Only you can figure out what you potential and passion really is. When you do, go for it.

“The first step is always the hardest… But you’ll never regret it!
– Author Unknown

Leaders Suffering From the Impostor Syndrome

“When you put on a costume, you may look like the real thing to others, but internally you know you are NOT actually that persona.” – Brigette A Cardenas, M.A., TAGT Leadership Conference 2016.

As an executive you typically don’t discuss your insecurities with others and you are supposed to demonstrate your great leadership traits. This is what you were appointed in this position for. The situation is that you feel you are an impostor for being in the leadership role you are given. You believe that somehow you’re not qualified to be a leader like your peers are. You think you are not deserving of the success you have and fear you will be “found out” for who you really are. This feeling is common for many first-time business leaders especially CEOs. You feel unprepared, untrained and not worthy to be in your position.

Have you ever felt like someone you’re not in the leadership position you are in? Accordingly, 70 percent of all successful people have experienced feelings of being an impostor at some point in their career. Understanding the impostor syndrome in leadership impacts the way you lead employees and the way you conduct business.

Leaders who have the impostor syndrome experience a lack of confidence, a feeling you are going to be found out that you are not as good as you portray yourself to be, feelings of self-doubt, comparing your leadership with others, believing you are not successful and any success you have is sheer luck, unable to accept successful accomplishments, feeling incompetent, convinced you are mediocre and unqualified to be a leader.

Surrounding yourself with statements such as “They’ll fire me”, “Everyone will laugh at me”, “I’ll be humiliated”, “They’ll think I’m a nothing”, “I should not have taken this job to begin with”, and “I’ll never work again”. These statements are others are probably swirling around in your head. They don’t need to be.

Both men and women alike struggle with the impostor syndrome. Men are more afraid to talk about it than women. Women with impostor syndrome tend to blame themselves. Men, on the other hand, accept more readily the fact that some things are beyond your control.
Suffering from the impostor syndrome you don’t see yourself the way other people see you. They think you’re on top of your game. They admire your knowledge, accomplishments and leadership qualities. Feeling you are fooling people in what you do you may think your abilities are not as good as other leaders. Having a fear of being exposed as a fraud, leaders sometimes are paralyzed with the fear of failure.

The specific behaviors common with having the impostor syndrome include:
Many people who feel like impostors grew up in families that placed a big emphasis on achievement.
• Difficulty accepting praise as being genuine (Denying praise and positive feedback as you feel people are “buttering you up”).
• Having high and unrealistic expectations of yourself
• Feeling that peers with the same responsibilities are somehow more qualified or better at their jobs
• Afraid of new responsibilities or challenges because they’re afraid of failure
• Impostor feelings are generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression.
• Feelings of inadequacy persist
• Reluctance to accept new responsibilities or challenges for fear of failure
• Self-criticizing constantly
• The impostor syndrome tends to be the domain of high achievers
• Many leaders who have the impostor syndrome are workaholics (You work longer and harder than others as compensation for not being found out).
“The biggest fear is being found to be incompetent… This fear diminishes their confidence and undermines relationships with other executives.”
-R. Jones, What CEOS are afraid of. HBR Feb 2015

“Those with Impostor Syndrome are “people who have a persistent belief in their lack of intelligence, skills or competence”– Valerie Young, Ed.D

Taking Actions to Lessen Your thoughts and Behaviors

“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes
– then learn how to do it later!
– Richard Branson

Identify Patterns
Start with a self-appraisal. Ask yourself what you are good at. Be fair and unbiased about your accomplishments. Recognize the patterns you pull yourself down into and think of what coping mechanisms you can use to reduce your thinking. Don’t hold yourself to impossible, unrealistic standards. Perfection does not exist.

Keep a Notebook or Journal
Write down your accomplishments, successes without any judging or criticizing how you achieved them.

When you start to think negative about yourself, re-frame the situation you are in to be more positive.

Stop the (Negative) Self-Talk
As soon as you question your work contributions, it’s time to stop any negative self-talk.

Constant reality checks are the best way to deal with unspoken imposter thoughts.
By constantly inserting your mind with a new coping reality you automatically defuse the ability of the Imposter Syndrome to create a false one. Having an Impostor Syndrome does not have to mean you are on edge for life. You can reduce these thoughts and feelings by not thinking much about what may take place and go with the flow of your workplace.

Getting Through the Second Half of 2017

“Optimism is the foundation of courage” – Nicholas Murray Butler

Where does the time go? We’re at the halfway mark in 2017. How has 2017 been for you and your business? Are you on track to where you should or need to be toward your year-end goals? Set priorities for the second half of the year. Do your employees know where the company is and what steps to take to get to the next goal post? Keeping your employees informed helps them get to the next level where you should or need to be.

The question is, are you pleased with where you are going this year? Are you achieving what you set out to do? If not, you still have another 6 months until the end of the year to accomplish your goals. Having the performance and insight can fully prepare you to finish the back half of the year strong.

Something about the New Year and new beginnings inspires so many people to make promises to succeed beyond the previous year. By evaluating yourself and what you want to do to get better in yourself and your work most people stretch the time you have to accomplish everything by the end of the next 12 months. The clock strikes midnight and bam! This is your year: the year of opportunity. For many you realize that 6 months have gone by and hope that the next 6 months don’t sneak up so fast like the first 6 did.

What have you accomplish on your new year’s resolution list?

Strengthened Your Business in the Second Half of the Year
Most people either don’t have a New Year’s resolution list or just don’t abide by what is on it. In any case, if you made a vow that you will do better this year than last, has that worked out for you? By day three 10% of the population have abandoned their promises. By the end of the first 30 days of each year most people give up on the promises for the New Year. Where do you fit?
Break your specific tasks down into small pieces. This helps to complete each task in shorter time periods. You can plan out where you want to focus each of the next 6 months and then work accordingly.

How much of your tasks can you give to others? Your team can complete some of the tasks. Check on them from time-to-time without micro-managing to find out how much of the task was accomplished. If you complete tasks yourself or with a team, use a checklist as it will help you to know what you have left to accomplish. Hold yourself accountable.

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties”
– Harry Truman

Don’t think that because half the year is over that you can’t accomplish what you want. You have another 6 months to accomplish a lot of things. Think for a few minutes and write down all that you can do.

With the first half of 2017 officially gone, how are you going to accomplish what you expect to by the end of the year?
For some people six months is enough time to change course if necessary. Most likely you have so many things to work on that you think it will be impossible to complete them all by the end of the year. By focusing and concentrating on the positive of each task you will complete each impossible task that will be possible for you to complete. Duplicating last year’s results isn’t challenging enough for what you really want. Think about what you can do that is more effective and productive to actually surpass last year.

What will you create for yourself in the last six months of this year?

The next 6 months is a chance to step back, evaluate where you have been and where to go from here. Take action to get back on track if necessary. Make the second half of the year count! Be more positive toward achieving your year-end goal. Work on the easy tasks first and then work through the harder ones. One by one you will accomplish what you want.

Using a simple exercise: get out paper and a pen, and make two lists: those people that help and those that don’t.
What inspires you or what motivates you to move yourself forward to the next level of success? Give yourself a reward each time you complete a task, the incentive alone should make it worthwhile to get done what needs to be accomplished.
New Creative Ideas Will Need to Bubble to the Surface

“Don’t give up at halftime. Concentrate on winning the second half.” — Bear Bryant

Be open to creative thinking for grabbing the attention of new customers and clients. Your existing customers and clients want to see fresh novel products and services you present them with. Here is your opportunity to move in that direction. Once you start you need to create and product things every quarter to keep your customers and clients from leaving you and go to your competitor.
Ask your employees for ideas they have. Their ideas might be what grab the attention of your customers and clients
What can you do to make the latter part of 2017 even more successful for you?

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Leaders Encouraging Creative Risks

Encouraging Smart Risks in the Workplace

“Research suggests that psychological safety and the willingness to take risks are potent antecedents to creative insight.”

– David Burkus

Many business leaders prefer to work using the same traditional ways to get things done. This helps you avoid or reduce risks and you know what results you achieve. In order to get higher performance, you need to take a bigger risk to thrive beyond where you have been. As a creative leader, you believe that in order to achieve greater breakthrough results, you need to take calculated risks.
Are you comfortable taking risks at work? Are your employees averse to taking risks to create the company’s products and services? Take into consideration that taking risks are important for creativity and innovation.

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

According to Salim Ismail “There are two main types of risk. There’s the classic “let’s just go for it” risk that entrepreneurs take to build a new business. Then there’s constant risk, where entrepreneurs make small process changes but don’t bet the company on it.”
Many employees just like most executives are risk-averse. Yet, in order to survival beyond survival mode you need to take some risk. Many businesses recently are on a downhill slide toward bankruptcy. They never expected to see this take place. They did not believe in taking any risk until it was too late.

“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”

― Neil Gaiman

When leaders allow their employees to generate ideas to solve problems, challenges and difficulties of situations and then create and produce the end result, this is a risk you are allowing to happen. In creative organizations, risk taking is encouraged by leaders because you trust your employees to use their creative potential to get work done.

Success won’t fall into your lap unless you pursue it. Taking risks may be a necessary step toward actively pursuing success. Just like asking someone for business or in trying to sell a product or service you are putting your reputation out to others. If the buyer likes what you sell, they in-turn will let other people know. That is a risk you take.

The term “risk” has a negative connotation attached to it. You need to look at taking a risk whenever you do anything. What most people don’t do is to take a calculated risk. This is where you have a back-up plan in case the first plan does not work the way you expect.

Take a Risk
Risks lead to empowered employees that lead to engaged employees that lead to profits for your company. To start, your employees need to know what exactly risk-taking means to you and in what situations you support it. Ask these questions: as employees need to know what the outcome is you are trying to achieve? Is the reward worth the risk? and Is there a small risk task they can take that would validate the idea for the solution they work to achieve?

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

-Mark Zuckerberg

Sticking to the Status Quo
Keep up with what you can do to stay ahead of your competition by challenging the norm. When it comes to taking risks, many prefer the status quo over the intimidation and unsteadiness of the unknown. This is where you now see businesses closing or at least they lose business to their competitors who use creativity to stay above the fray.

Comfort Zone
Being afraid to step outside your comfort zone is a risk employee’s and leaders need to make in order to do things different from what you are used to doing. This is a challenge most people run up against especially as you do things opposite than what you did before.

Your Willingness to Take Risks
Your willingness to take a risk demonstrates your creative expression. Creative and innovative organizations have a greater chance to be more competitive over others. By embracing the willingness to take a risk won’t matter if a mistake is made just as long as you learn from it.

To put it another way: creativity yields innovation. If you want your organization to be more innovative – you need your people to be more creative. Everyone has the capacity to be creative; they just need the right environment.

So how can we make your organization more innovative? At your core, you need creativity. You need to allow your employees to generate novel and exciting ideas. Some people develop their creative skills early in life. Others need help cultivating it later on.
Being creative is risky. So if you want your organization to be creative, you need to take the creative risk that is calculated. This means that you have a back-up plan in case the first does not work out the way you expect.

Never Stop Experimenting
Experimentation is particularly hard for big organizations, since they tend to focus on execution rather than innovation. To effectively marry execution with innovation, business leaders need to set experimentation processes in place.

Being encouraged by your company leaders to take necessary risks in order to be creative for producing a breakthrough result is a lot to ask someone who is not used to conducting business this way. It is a risk you need to be comfortable with. Allowing employees to take risks requires trust from senior leaders and executives. The biggest risk is not taking any risk at all.