Ideas are the building blocks of a leadership philosophy, and ideas are the result of thinking. Therefore, to develop a leadership philosophy its necessary to develop a “thinking discipline”.Leaders need to be intentional about how they develop their ideas, by consciously deciding which ideas to believe and embrace as part of their personal leadership philosophy. As a leader it’s important to spend time intentionally developing ideas and a leadership philosophy. Its too important for leaders to leave to chance. This means, as leaders we need to make time to develop leadership ideas by spending time:
- In Study and Reading.
- In Reflection.
- In Conversation.
- In Experimentation.
- In Writing, which is one of the best ways to learn about one’s self and what you believe.
- In Thinking, about leadership.
John Maxwell, in his book “Thinking for a Change”, states that leaders need to have a place to “think” their thoughts, a place to “shape” their thoughts, a place to “stretch” their thoughts and a place to “land” their thoughts. Building on these thoughts on “Intentional Thinking”, a chapter in the book, I propose that the “Intentional Thinking” is a good framework which can be used to guide thinking. I have illustrated the process in the diagram below:
1) A Place to THINK Your Thoughts
Good thinking is a discipline which can be developed, just like any other habit. John Maxwell shows that having a place to think your thoughts, helps to develop a thinking habit. Personally I find that I do some of my best thinking in coffee shops, in my car and alone in my bedroom. How about you? Do you have a thinking place and a mature thinking habit?
In addition to a place to think your thoughts, you need a means of capturing your thoughts. I try to collect ideas from as many sources as possible, which I then take time to “shape” them. I use a blank spiral bound notebook to collect and shape my thoughts. I tried using a computer, however I found that I am able to think better with a pen and paper. I suggest that you experiment and use whatever works for you.
“The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas” – Linus Pauling
2) A Place to SHAPE Your Thoughts
“Rarely do ideas come fully formed and completely worked out. Most of the time, they need to be shaped until they have substance” – John Maxwell
This statement highlights the need to spend time fine tuning and developing your leadership ideas. One of the best ways to do this is by writing!
“Learning to write is learning to think. You don’t know anything clearly unless you can state it in writing” – S. I. Hayakawa
“Put your ideas in writing. They will become clearer and stronger, and it will become easier to put action to your thoughts.” – Unknown
I personally have not spent enough time in this area, hence the creation of this blog! Shaping your ideas also involves questioning and critiquing your ideas to ensure they’re sound.
3) A Place to STRETCH Your Thoughts
A place to stretch your thoughts allows you to explore your ideas and take them as far as they can go! Stretching your thoughts means discussing your ideas with friends, associates and other great thinkers! In addition to discussing ideas with others, giving your ideas time to “mature” helps you gain perspective and a deeper understanding of the idea.
4) A Place to LAND Your Thoughts
“The real power of an idea comes when it goes from abstraction to application” – John Maxwell
The end result of thinking and developing great ideas is changed personal behaviours, more effective teams and empowered organisations.
“A thought which does not result in an action is nothing much, and an action which does not proceed from a thought is nothing at all.” – Georges Bernanos
The bottom line is that knowledge or great ideas without application is useless.
Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week. – George Bernard Shaw
Do you have time set aside for thinking, shaping and stretching your thoughts?