How to Be a Better Leader with Elastic Thinking

Where do good ideas come from?

And why do some leaders seem to have them in abundance, while others struggle to generate one?

The answer is elastic thinking, which Leonard Mlodinow’s Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Constantly Changing World argues.

Elastic thinking is defined as a bottom-up cognitive style that frees the mind to generate and integrate novel ideas.

While logical analytical thinking is useful for solving problems we have encountered before, elastic thinking allows us to successfully understand and respond to change.

By developing our elastic thinking skills, we also learn to reframe our own questions and experiment, accept failure, ambiguity, and contradiction, let go of conventional ideas and preexisting assumptions, and leverage imagination to generate and integrate more ideas.

But, do we need to think elastically to be good leaders?

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How to Harness the Power of Deep Practice to Master Any Discipline

Deep practice reminds us that mastery comes from sustained practice and close attention. Being better means seeing errors no one else can, and feeling enough devotion to the craft to iron them out anyway. Learning and development are a continuous process, not a closed goal.

For me, that’s why I need to practice guitar twice every day. Yes, I am heightening my abilities in that particular discipline.

I am also learning how to learn, cultivating patience, and reminding myself that no matter how good I may be in another area of my life, I can always be better.

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Want Top-Performing Employees? Make Them Feel Understood

“I think that every human being requires a certain type of soil, temperature, and altitude, very narrowly defined for some, almost universal for others – in order to feel free and happy.” –Isak Dineson
Isak Dineson was right. On the broadest level, people often need the same forms of social acceptance and belonging; but as individuals, we need a specific set of circumstances to thrive.
In other words, the Golden Rule doesn’t work.
Don’t treat me as you want to be treated. Treat me as I want to be treated.
The same applies to your employees.
Don’t just make them feel understood, understand them. Only then will you be able to fully unlock their potential, engender their loyalty, and create a bond that accelerates the performance of the greater team.

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The Secret to Leading Successful Teams: Small, Daily Actions

Starting small is about the questions we should ask ourselves every day, but never do. It’s expected that we shoot for the stars, but not that we think of the millions of little steps that must be taken to reach them. By focusing on the slight improvement, the incremental change, we can perfect our practice while still moving forward day by day.

Small actions are easier to take than big ones. I may not be able to run an ultramarathon now, but I can do my five miles today and add on more distance tomorrow.

As a naturally impatient person and a new entrepreneur, I rarely look at time as my friend. Yet, behavioral psychologists, scientists studying performance, and the most accomplished athletes, musicians, and business leaders all understand that the combination of repetition, time, and practice ultimately produces the greatest results.

I’ve seen this in practice running my company Ethos, which focuses on driving tech company performance by supporting the teams powering them. Small, daily actions become employee habits, and if they’re the goods ones, cultures thrive. I haven’t seen this success with major restructurings or team shakeups.

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