Leadership Today Requires New Ways of Thinking

Thinking outside the box is one of the most overused clichés in the world of business—except when jewelry industry consultant Kate Peterson uses the term.

When Peterson, president and chief executive officer of Performance Concepts, talks about thinking outside the box, what she is describing is busting through the box, tearing it to shreds, and burning the remains. In an hour-long session Wednesday at The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas, Peterson discussed a myriad of issues around training staff members. In every point she made, in every example she gave, she encouraged audience members to think in ways that are new, creative, and innovative in order to meet the challenges of the 21st-century business environment.

“What used to be good enough isn’t good enough anymore,” Peterson said during her talk, titled “Innovations in Staff Management.” “You have to inspire your people. You need people to be results driven. You need to treat your people as stakeholders, and you need to encourage them.”

What this takes, she said, is “effective leadership.”

To become this type of leader, she said managers and store owners need to stop taking a crisis-management approach to running their businesses and start thinking like visionaries by taking a strategic approach to running a business and getting their employees to buy in to the overall concept. Also, it requires self examination.

“What are you doing to cause some of these problems? We have a habit of putting a Band Aid on things,” she said. “You have to start looking more long term. … Think about the way you’ve always done it, and think about doing it a different way.”

Peterson noted that it doesn’t require a new set of skills or additional knowledge. What it requires is looking at different ways to use what you already know.

She said that the effectiveness of leadership is shaped by 10 essential truths:

* Context is everything.
* Things are rarely as they appear.
* For every action, there are several possible (plausible) explanations.
* For every problem, there are at least three possible solutions.
* There is a fundamental difference between management and leadership.
* Just because you said it doesn’t mean they heard it.
* What you mean and what they believe are often two very different things.
* What you say or do matters far less than what others believe you say or do.
* We seriously underestimate the impact we have on the people around us.
* We have no real understanding of our capabilities until we are tested.