Learning Outside Your Box

Owners and top managers are encouraged to look beyond their business boarders for insight, education and new strategies to lead in the new normal.

This is a very important time for business owners and top managers to become students of business. As we emerge from a world-wide pandemic, many are keen to herald in the “new normal” and the evolution of previous held business strategies. As such, there are new thoughts and ideas entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders need to learn to move their companies forward in this new environment.

At the very least, business owners can access myriad amounts of great content about how business is being conducted today through various print and online sources. It’s an extremely easy way to get information that can have a real impact on strategic planning and troubleshooting everyday problems.

However, business leaders are encouraged to reach out beyond the digital and maintain a dialogue with colleagues both inside and outside their respective industries, says business coach Jim Canfield.

Canfield, the president of CEO Tools, suggests taking an active role in an industry association that connects you with other like-minded professionals to discuss what’s going on inside your markets. In addition, networking offers business owners the ability to learn from each other, especially when it comes to sharing best practices.

In addition to industry-based associations, Canfield suggests professional peer groups – such as the CEO networking group Vistage – that bring executives together from different industries to discuss the issues they’re facing.

“Sometimes the best learning comes from someone running a different business in a completely different industry,” Canfield says.

In addition to stretching and exercising your business acumen, Canfield suggests business leaders do all they can to stay in shape both physically and mentally. “Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and exercise so you’re prepared to face each day with fresh energy,” he says.

Likewise, Canfield suggests owners and mangers take time to reflect on their self-awareness. “I ask every CEO to every day ask themselves two questions: One, what message does my team or my organization need to hear from me today?” he says. “It doesn’t mean there will be a message every day, but you need to ask yourself this question.

“And two, was I a leader yesterday that my organization needs?” he adds. “If not, then I have a brand new day to do it differently.”

Ask yourself how much time did you spend leading (setting the direction), managing (telling others how to get us there) or doing (doing it yourself)? Ideally, Canfield says a good leader maintains a balanced mix of all three.

“If I’m learning about business, I’m learning from the successes and failures of others and I’m constantly aware about whether my own leadership style is giving us the level of effectiveness that we’re looking for,” he says. “This is a great start to be a more effective leaders over time.”

Mike Zawacki is editor of Snow Magazine.

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