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Creating Successful Leaders

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image via alabamaconnection.org

There’s true power in thinking for yourself. We need only look at history to see that the great minds–Edison, Einstein, Galileo, Newton–all shared in their questioning of the status quo, and found breakthroughs that have impacted society up to present day. They thought for themselves.

Like all of our cliche phrases, thinking for yourself isn’t very well defined. We might hear someone explain, “That gal over there thinks for herself,” and we’d nod our heads approvingly, not really thinking about what that actually means. The best definition I can come up with is someone who doesn’t just assume that the usual way of doing business is the best way. These type of people don’t feel comfortable operating unless they have a full understanding of why their role is necessary. They aren’t afraid to experiment with “what if” scenarios. They trust their instincts and their ability to reason their way to innovation.

These kind of people find themselves in an awkward position in the professional world. On one hand, the mavericks provide innovation, and innovation is what fuels thriving businesses. So we all rely them. On the other hand, they’re often perceived as the rebels, the trouble-makers, the ones who won’t get with the program and shut up. They’re often ridiculed, dismissed, or persecuted for their beliefs and actions.

If you’re an outside the box thinker, congrats! We owe the world’s innovations to your kind. Here’s some advice to keep you optimistic about this strength:

1. You’ll encounter resistance and doubts. Don’t be discouraged! Keep challenging the norm, but do it in a productive way, which leads me to…

2. Be patient and humble. Although can expect to be rejected and misunderstood, persistence wins in the end, as like-minded people tend to flock together and feed off each other’s energy. Keep in mind that every new idea isn’t automatically better, and it takes time for people to grow accustomed to change.

3. Give the outside the box thinkers on your team room to experiment. As a manager, you may be hesitant to encourage your creative types to explore, but you’ll be rewarded in kind by an improved dedication and some really stellar ideas on their part.

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