Great leadership is not just about managing and maintaining what is. To be a Great Leader you need not to be afraid to make mistakes. Leaders have the confidence to take risks.

Consider the following quotes:

“Theoretically, television may be feasible, but I consider it an impossibility -a development which we should waste little time dreaming about.”
– Lee de Forest, 1926, inventor of the cathode ray tube

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
– Thomas J. Watson, 1943, Chairman of the Board of IBM

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
– Western Union internal memo, 1876

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
– Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”
– H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927

“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
– Bill Gates, 1981

Leadership Skills and Thinking Outside the Box

It is important not to look beyond the present and into the future. Today organisations need to be organic, adaptable in order to grow and change. When the movie camera was introduced, the camera did not move! The actors would run around the static camera like they were on a theatre stage. The idea that the camera could move around the actors took time to realise. To identify great opportunities you need good leadership skills. Great Leaders look beyond current practises and markets.

Try this test to see if you can think outside the box! – Draw nine dots to make a square – three rows of three. Try and join the nine dots with 4 straight lines.

Do you need 5 lines? The correct answer is shown here in this diagram. Did you restrict yourself? Did you impose the restriction that lines cannot go outside the box?

Try not to give yourself self imposed restrictions that prevent you and your organisation from reaching your goals and developing new ideas, as mentioned before businesses need to be adaptable, to be open to change and be continuously developing in order to survive and grow.

This way of thinking is commonly called thinking outside of the box. Inside the box thinkers are very skilled at killing ideas. For example, Charles H. Duell, Director of the US Patent Office, said in 1899, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Here’s a list of ways in which Leaders think outside the box:

  • Listening to others
  • Supporting others when they come up with new ideas and respecting them
  • Valuing new ideas and not being afraid to act on them
  • Willingness to look at new perspectives to day to day work
  • Openness to different things
  • Openness to doing things differently