We see what we want to see. We’ve all heard that phrase and it applies especially to leaders in business. For a business to be successful – and remain successful – we as leaders must make sure to avoid falling into a complacent mindset. When business is improving, it becomes especially easy to convince ourselves that we really understand our customers and that our competitors are not a serious threat. Often, that is when we should intensify our attention to what our customers really want, and to see what those around us see that we cannot.
Here are three perspectives we’ve come across in working with our clients that can help keep you sharp and ready for the next challenge:
- Open your mind. When you have been doing a job for many years, it becomes easy to settle into a comfort zone and lose touch with day-to-day operations. When that happens, you may fail to see emerging threats to your business. The solution: Ask others around you – customers, colleagues, vendors – to challenge you. Most especially, ask them to challenge the assumptions you rely on every day in your work. They may identify areas for improvement or bring forward some terrific new ideas.
- Ditch the comfort zone. Once you have decided to open your mind to new ideas, you may find yourself in an uncomfortable place. You may have to make dramatic changes in your business, or even abandon practices you have found to be “tried and true” in the past. The solution: Do it. Make the changes that scare you, once you are convinced that your customers will benefit. Step away from accepted wisdom if doing so can bring you a competitive advantage.
- Talk to your people. Sometimes we overlook the innovative and insightful ideas that are right in front of us. As leaders, we often become complacent and closed to communication with employees and clients. The solution: foster and reward a climate of honest communication by listening and being open to new ideas unlike your own. Empower the people who know your business best to offer insights freely, without fear. It will pay off in business growth and a more engaged, effective team.