If you worked in ad agencies during your career (as I have), you quickly learn about being different.
Building a brand, developing a strategy, creating an ad is ALWAYS about differentiating.
Doing things as usual is almost never a good idea.
So why is it we see so many businesses and organizations not clearly setting themselves apart in the "how" or "why" they do what they do?
I think it can be summed up in two words: comfort zone.
We all love our comfort zones. We feel safe, confident, and it's easy to lead when we can fall back into the familiar.
Going out and exploring the unknown is scary. It's not a predictable investment of your time or money.
Yet, today with a global economy, an internet driven world of social media being increasingly led by Gen Xers and Milliennials, classic business thinking may no longer be a sacred cow.
Organizations, at their very core, change rapidly. You see it every day as new models make old businesses extinct.
Think Uber, Airbnb and Netflix.
So how is that so many organizations and their leaders continue to practice the status quo? More importantly, how do you recognize the "trappings" of favoring such thinking?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you find yourself becoming more defensive than usual when staff suggest new ideas?
- Do you find yourself taking more "air time" at meetings and sharing the merits of your own ideas?
- Do you find yourself retreating into policies and procedures when a different opinion is expressed?
- Is your open door policy becoming more closed door as you retreat?
If you answer yes to any of these, you definitely need to rethink things.
To get you started, here are 5 tips from Stillettos on the Glass Ceiling, a site whose mission is to unite, empower and support women.
1. Learn to Ask Good Questions: Asking the right questions can lead to eye-opening insights that are right there waiting to be found but that no one has taken the time to find out.
2. Embrace Golden Silence: After you’ve asked a question and the person responding pauses in their answer, don’t jump right in with your next question. Give the person space to add more
3. Check Your Assumptions at the Door: Assumptions can be some of the most detrimental thoughts we have because they limit our potential for growth and change.
4. Shift Your Perspective: Like with assumptions, if we never change our perspective we will never grow. Building a project team with different and unique perspectives is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this. Just make sure to give all the people on the team a chance to voice their thoughts and insights.
5. Be Firm, but Don’t Be Antagonistic: Driving change with any group of people can be difficult. It is sometimes easier to give in to someone with a vice grip on the past than it is to deal with the pain of change. Many people fear change will lead to a loss of a job. Be firm about the need to move forward and how it will reap more rewards in the long run.
Today's successful organizations never got there by maintaining the status quo. Their leaders recognized that doing things differently whether it is a business cause or social cause was essential.
And if anything should remain the same, it should be that kind of thinking.
Watch for our new book "Putting Soul Into Business: How the Benefit Corporation is Transforming American Business for Good"