I want to start 2016 Daily Thoughts with this word. Possibilities. This is Daily Thought number 581, and the first of 2016. And I am inviting possibilities to my world.
I don’t think there are many better words to describe the essence of management and leadership of organizations. The art of seeking, seeing and finding possibilities is the art of leadership. I am not the only one using this word of course, but it is my personal conviction that, when it comes to describing leadership, ‘possibilities’ beat any other keyword.
Possibilities are not the same as options. Both are sisters, but different. Options are another form of oxygen in the life of people in organizations. We always take for granted that we have them. This is until we see others or ourselves expressing things such as ‘we have no options’, or ‘I have no choice’. Then, as in many things in life, it is in their absence that we appreciate their luxury.
Options, as a word, invites to decisions. But sometimes options are thrown in front of us as obvious, or as inevitable, or the expected and politically correct ones. Options often come in front of us a little bit cooked. Options, as concept, is just a little bit contaminated by management jargon. Options are good though. As before, imagine the lack of them.
However, possibilities come before options. Possibilities mean scanning, seeing, smelling, imagining, deferring a little bit the ‘therefore I have 1,2,3 options’. Possibilities make us incredibly wealthy. Options make us rich enough.
I am not trying cheap philosophy here. I am talking about an essential part of the DNA of the leader: to see, and teach to see, possibilities; to invite others to see as well, to explore, to seek, to refuse the ‘we don’t have them’.
We have people trapped in jobs that they don’t like, in organizations that have everything pre-cooked for them, or in roles with zero-autonomy attached. It may not be always possible for the leaders to change the state of affairs (maybe they are also trapped!) but seeking possibilities must be something that they can take accountability for.
Perhaps a good start of the year is to stop (before starting!) and seek, then explore, then contemplate, then visualize them. Action men and women need not worry. There is plenty of time for the options and decisions. I am not advocating paralysis or, even worse, navel gazing. I am just suggesting that we try to master this year that ability of smelling feeling and seeing possibilities. The ones that may be obvious; the ones not too obvious; the perhaps unimaginable right now.
It’s this perhaps a form of ‘Leadership Aesthetics’! It gets better with practising. I am going to.
Happy New Year, by the way.