Consider All Options

We recently purchased a new car, and I was amazed at all the options we were offered. What color? What seat package? We had choices about the radio, tires, warranty, paint finish, floor mats, and a GPS system. The options were seemingly endless. Oh, and yes, there were about 15 ways to finance our purchase!

We live in a time when options are available in almost every area. Even hamburgers can be custom-made! With all the options people are offered in their lives, we often make a fatal mistake when we approach leadership responsibilities: we do not offer options. We plan our meetings with no choices. We insist that activities must be conducted the way they have been in the past. After all, they were good enough for us in 1970, so why not now?

The people you and I know are so accustomed to making choices that they are not terribly open to joining a group or participating in a project where their input isn’t asked for—or wanted. Their opinions matter, and they want to be part of the decision-making process. A preordained format or action planned by 1 or 2 leaders isn’t terribly attractive to them.

How can leaders get “outside the box” we have created for ourselves? How can leaders consciously concentrate on being creative? What can we do to encourage our team or group to be creative in its outlook?

Following are several suggestions for leading your team or group to expand its ability to address tasks with courage, creativity, and sound choices:

  • Encourage others to look at things from a different perspective. Ask yourself what a young person wants from group membership. What motivates people to join groups? How can they approach an annual project differently? Your answers depend on your perspective! Look at things through someone else’s eyes.
  • Rely on your team or group for input. Tell your team or group members you expect them to come to your meetings with new ideas in hand. If they know you usually decide everything, then they won’t bother to do any thinking ahead of time. Let them know the team’s success depends on their involvement.
  • Make the most of what you have. When finances are limited, we tend to think there’s no use in being creative because it costs too much. Creativity will find a way! You’d be surprised what a brainstorming session will do for your team. Welcoming fresh approaches can create a climate with a “can-do” spirit, a spirit that will bring new life to your team or group.
  • Use available resources to help you be more creative in how you engage people, support ministries, and learn about missions. A trip to a bookstore or an online search will be worth your time. Jump Start Your Brain, by Doug Hall, and Roger Von Oech’s A Whack on the Side of the Head and Creative Whack Pack are good first sources.

Your next meeting or planning session can be an adventure in creativity. Incorporate brainstorming, lead idea-forming exercises, and consider all options!

Linda Clark, president, Indiana WMU, leads women’s conferences and retreats and loves to challenge others to explore creative ideas. She is the author of 5 Leadership Essentials for Women and the main presenter of the Develop course, Leader Skills, based on that book.

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