3 Easy Steps as a Leader to Challenge the Status Quo

As a leader, give yourself permission to question the status quo of your organization and invite your team to join in.

Organizations develop a status quo for many reasons. Those reasons range from leaders feeling pressured for time and the need to prioritize, all the way to a culture that has a “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality.

The problem is that companies and their cultures are living and breathing entities that change with the people that inhabit them. Policies that worked for one generation might fall on deaf ears to the next. Training that was successful for the employees of a mid-size company, might no longer be relevant once the organization grows to the size of a large corporation.

It's leadership’s responsibility to have a forward thinking mindset – a mindset that doesn’t settle for a bare minimum attitude. And instead looks to who their current teams are now and sets out to support them with values, policies and ideas that are relevant to them.

A leader can’t create these things for their employees in a vacuum. By asking the perspectives of your team, you not only build emotional capital with your employees, you help build a more productive workforce.

Below are three easy steps to start having these conversations with your team organically.

1. Invite all Differing Perspectives

As a leader, you may think that certain training or policies are working because no one is saying differently. Have you ever really asked though? Change that now! Invite differing perspectives from within your organization to examine issues, and be thoughtful about whose perspective can really lend a fresh new point-of-view. The goal should be to get the  people who are affected by specific policies and training in the room. At Fierce, we use the Team Model to help companies have these types of conversations. You might be surprised by what you learn.

2. Ask More Questions

When an employee comes to you and has an issue with the current status quo, take this opportunity to get curious with them and ask questions about why it’s not working, and what they would do to fix it. Maybe a major overhaul isn’t even in order, and it’s a simple adjustment that can make everyone more engaged. These one-on-one opportunities with your team are great ways to, little by little, shift away from the current state of affairs towards something more meaningful.

3. Be Ready to Help the Change

If you don’t want to change a policy or training because it’s working or perhaps to change it is just unrealistic at this time, communicate this to your team. Don’t waste everyone’s energy getting feedback if you’re not going to do anything with the information. There is no quicker way to lower your emotional capital as a leader than to ask for new ideas and then ignore the input. Not only are you setting a false expectation, it might send the message that their ideas aren’t good enough. Both are outcomes that are much worse than sticking with whatever current policy you have now.

As a leader, do you think it's your responsibility to challenge the status quo?

This blog was originally published on April 23, 2012 on the Fierce blog.

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