Women are limiting their own progress by not considering themselves as “visionary thinkers,” according to researchers Ibarra and Obodaru. In fact, these professionals reveal that the female majority does not value the more abstract “visionary” thinking as much as they value their practical orientation toward solving problems.
This is a game-changer, if we want to elevate women to higher leadership. It means that even if you are a highly-successful female professional, you are no doubt keeping yourself from an even more incredible future, simply because you may not be developing your visionary thinking.
Vision is the driver for inspiring and engaging your team to move forward together with purpose. It’s the foundation for creativity and innovation. Lifting your thinking from simply what’s in front of you to a world of possibilities is necessary to help you and your company remain relevant and positioned for the future.
So if you are a woman who seeks to expand your leadership capacity, you must cultivate visionary thinking as part of your toolkit.
Here are 5 steps to help you begin to make this shift:
- Make room for creative space. Schedule this on your calendar regularly, and give yourself permission to daydream, and to dive deep. This may be a big shift for you if you are accustomed to operating from a “get-it-done” mindset. Recognize that without this space to look beyond what is, you will remain right where you are. And if you find it is a challenge to make this happen at the office, schedule yourself outside the office for it. This is foundational.
- Make your creative thoughts relevant. How might the ideas you come up with relate to your company, and to your own leadership? If you catch yourself limiting ideas because of current practices or parameters, ask yourself what might be possible if these were not limiters.
- Leverage your thinking and creative process with a brain trust. Utilize the concept of brain trust, forming a small circle of trusted professionals both inside and outside of your industry to discuss ideas. This one move not only supports synergy, but also begins to develop a forward-thinking network to incubate ideas and innovation.
- Develop your outside-in lens. As you go about your daily work, approach it with new eyes. If you were looking at your company or initiative from the outside, how would what you see compare to what could be?
- Disrupt the rules of engagement. Challenge process and protocol. Ask why, when your team opts for the standard, preferred way of doing. Ask why not, when you hear someone saying that it simply can’t be done. Mix up your taskforces, hold meetings in unconventional spots when you want creative thinking. What else can you switch up that disrupts the status quo?
Cultivating visionary thinking is not an overnight switch. Developing new habits to shift mindset take time. But the results are worth it, if you are ready to get from where you are, to where you want to be. I challenge you to begin cultivating your visionary thinking, and to let me know what shifts you are experiencing.
“The possibilities that tomorrow brings are proportional to the beliefs you hold about them.” – Patti Cotton