Thought Pioneer: How to Lead Through Exploration

Thought Pioneer: How to Lead Through Exploration

You’ve all been in the room with a creative thinker. They are the ones known for “thinking outside the box.” In a brainstorming session, they can come up with idea after idea. They are often quick and witty, and you may wish you were more like them.

Every organization needs one or two creative thinkers to help other staff think more broadly. Creative thinkers, however, may not be particularly detail oriented. They may not be planners or implementers. These activities require a “thought pioneer.”

The thought pioneer is the person who can envision the path and picture the horizon. She maps and charts the course and finds ways around potential obstacles and detours. She can move off the beaten (corporate) path when needed, and is skilled at knowing what is required and how to manage both for the short run and for the long haul.

If you find yourself in this office explorer role, there are several important skills you should keep honed.

•First of all are your listening skills. Be open to new ideas and new approaches. Listen carefully to what others have to say and contribute. Listen without immediate judgment and don’t be distracted by the background noise of the naysayers.

•Next is team leadership. Realize that planning a long trek or a big project requires teamwork,  support, and interdependence.  As with any expedition, each person on the team has a valuable role to play.  They all need to stay focused and fully participatory.

•Preparation is critical. Be prepared  for surprises, setbacks, and contingencies. Recognize that you and your colleagues may be moving outside of your comfort zones, even charting new territory.  Alter your path if necessary, but always keep the vision and your destination in sight.

Most administrators recognize the value of having a staff with various skill sets. They know that creative thinking is essential to the development of new ideas and products, but they also realize that the actual journey to implementation takes a thought pioneer. So instead of feeling like you fall short on creativity, give yourself credit for what you and your team contribute on the trek to success.

Photo Credit: Joe Hunt

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