Injure a Shoulder, Become a Better Leader … What???

Due to a careless move on my part, I tore up my shoulder … on my dominant arm … in a biking accident.  After months of exercise and therapy, it became clear that my shoulder would not fully heal without surgery.  Fast forward one year to this week, as I sit here in an arm sling, post-surgery, doing my best to take care of daily tasks with one hand− my non-dominant hand.

Admittedly, this is a very minor inconvenience compared to the major, permanent, tragedies facing so many people.  But, it has been a great wake-up call for me to realize I can be more resilient and creative.  It has reminded me of how I have taken so many things for granted; things that were simple when both hands were available can become a bit of a challenge.  For example, flossing teeth, tying shoes and driving a car with a stick-shift were mindless tasks … until now.  I’ve found solutions to each of these in the last few days, solutions that are simple and definitely not earth-shattering.  However, due to my “stuck in a rut” mentality, it took a bit of time to create work-arounds for each of these new challenges.

What’s the connection to leadership?  This whole process has reminded me of the creativity traps that plague so many of us.  Creativity traps that are the result of behaviors that, on the surface, seem harmless but can actually promote the “stuck in a rut” mentality. How many activities do you and your team perform, often without thinking, that could be undermining your effectiveness? Here’s a challenge: Assess your meeting management and consider altering, or completely changing some things.  I’ve done this with a lot of clients and the results can be surprising.

  • Remove the chairs from the meeting room.  It’s amazing how this speeds up meetings.
  • Change the seating order: who sits next to whom, etc?
  • Change meeting location, time, day.
  • Rotate meeting leadership though all attendees.
  • Eliminate some meetings.  Most are a waste of time, just ask your staff.

So, while I’m not a proponent of getting in a bicycle crash … then having surgery … as a way to improve creativity, my recent experience has reinforced the value of the following: Get out of your comfort zone, mix things up, and stir the pot! The best leaders do this before they are forced to … do you?