The 21st century presents many new challenges for both employees and business leaders. In an interconnected, fast moving world, we need to learn cognitive flexibility, stress tolerance, and divergent thinking. While technology can make us more effective, new theories of leadership emphasize the importance of trust and establishing long-term relationships. In a competitive world, we need leaders with novel ideas, who are willing to take risks, inspire and motivate, and build new strategic partnerships to address global challenges. In these endeavors, leaders need to incorporate skills that are more in the realm of psychology and cognitive science. Below is a psychologist’s perspective on what it takes to succeed in the new world of business.
"Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is specifically your own.“ –Bruce Lee
There are so many people out there saying exactly the same thing. To stand out, you have to be original. Being original involves taking time to really think about material that you hear or read. How does this story or research finding relate to finding solutions for the problems that you want to address?
“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker
It’s not about getting things done quickly or doing the most activities in the shortest time. Rather than doing a bunch of busywork, take time to formulate a vision and set priorities and goals. Find a balance between doing the urgent and important things.
“Fall seven times, Stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb
The truth is that everybody makes mistakes. The bigger your goals, the more mistakes you will make. Being innovative means trying new things; and venturing where nobody has gone before. It’s easier to do things the way they’ve always been done, but your long-term impact will be less. If you want to have a memorable and long-term impact, you need to take strategic risks, and that may mean failing or messing up sometimes. Self-confidence is key. Often this comes from having prior successful experiences. Even if you’re doing something new, remember your prior successes, and the personal qualities you have that created them.
4. EMBRACE CHANGE
“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity. “ – Peter Drucker
We live in a time of rapid technological, geographical, and economic change. Old formulas don't predict as well, anymore. New knowledge about the brain and human genome is already leading to radical new ways of viewing the world. Mobile technology makes the world smaller and increases the access & knowledge of constituents who previously had no voice. This creates many challenges, but also opens the door to new opportunities.
“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. “ – Lao Tzu
When you do succeed, do not get too distracted by your ego. Success does not make you invincible or more worthy than other people. Every person has something to contribute and all are worthy of respect (except perhaps human cannibals, etc.). Similarly, if you don’t get desired results, your preconceived views may need to be tweaked, so be willing to change your thinking.Be patient with the process. Results take time. You may have to go through a stage of investing your time and resources, learning new skills, putting ideas out there and waiting for them to take root.
Using these strategies should help optimize your personal strength and adaptability, passion for your work, ability to act strateically, and work with others in mutually beneficial ways. While the old model of business emphasized dominance and power, the new models are more abou vision, focus, communication, cognitive flexibility, authenticity, and partnership. The world is becoming too complicated to be effective alone. Forming meaningful, trusting relationships with others who have different skills and knowledge, but similar goals and values is the way to succeed in both small business and large organizations.
Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, and expert on Mindfulness and Positive Psychology. Dr Greenberg provides workshops and speaking engagements for organizations, life, weight loss, or career coaching, and psychotherapy for individuals and couples.
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