Tag Archives: creative problem solving

Leading by Instinct

There is not a Best M.O. among top leaders. Nor is there any M.O. that would exclude you from being a good leader.

My research shows that the best predictor of both productivity and sustainability in complex and complicated environments is the degree of conative or instinct-based diversity among the core leaders in the C-Suite. In smaller organizations, with only a few people at the top of a narrow pyramid, the conative criteria for leadership also narrow.

Instincts in C-Suites

In a large and very complex organization with a collaborative culture, it works especially well to have a CEO whose instinct is to initiate in both the Fact Finder and Quick Start Action Modes, sparking both research and development programs. Another essential part of the conative mix is for such leaders to instinctively resist or just mildly accommodate Follow Thru systems. This is how such leaders keep their organizations from getting bogged down in redundancies or becoming too bureaucratic.

It is essential, that leaders with this M.O. have CFOs, or other cohorts at the top, who deal with the complicated, more linear, financial, legal, and sometimes physical structures. It has proven wise to have a second in command who naturally plays the role of insisting on adherence to Follow Thru regulations -which he or she instinctively creates. It helps a set of such leaders to work in sync with each other if the second person accommodates Fact Finder strategies. When these leaders have equal levels of insistence in Fact Finder, they need to have clearly defined, separate responsibilities or they will end up with dueling priorities. Rounding out the M.O. of the cohort is a resistance in Quick Start, which adds a stabilizing force to the senior management team.

In today’s world, the CEO often serves as the chief PR person in the face of scandals, recalls, attacks, and hackings. I don’t see many resistant Quick Start CEOs surviving through major crises like these. Quick Start energy is required when being a spokesperson dealing with uncertainty (note what happens to the grand orator in Obama when he addresses uncertainty).

Resistant Follow Thrus are beaten up for not finishing what they start, but without their input organizations would stay put. The power of their randomness makes their resistance to sticking with the plan the ingredient that often saves the day. As confounding as it can be to their conative opposites, their natural ability to dodge bullets is a trait that helps organizations land on their feet.

It is the Implementor leader’s insistence on precision and manifestation of ideas that makes this M.O. the most difficult to put in the C-Suite. It is essential, but often better in the field than the executive offices – as long as he or she is empowered to halt processes for quality control purposes. Given the freedom to skip meetings and lead the on-site troops, these leaders will add significantly to the power and quality of products and programs.

Instinctive Facilitators are especially interesting to observe as they perform at high levels of leadership in organizations like franchises and health related situations; first, because in those environments leadership involves maintaining systems and second, because it involves maintaining ego-driven relationships – and the caring for a diversity of human beings. Their instinct to bring out the best in others and to build bridges between people reduces conflicts and keeps energy focused on purposes rather than personal issues.

Entrepreneurial Instincts

It is less complicated to diagnose the instinct-based leadership in an entrepreneurial organization. It is all about the naturally born entrepreneur trusting the combination of Quick Start insistent drive and back-up Fact Finder strategies. Without much Follow Thru budget making, a stand-alone entrepreneur needs to use the power of Quick Start persuasion to cut deals, and rope friends, family and vendors into becoming uncompensated co-conspirators. Of course, those who fill the need for creating Follow Thru systems are also essential. When a true entrepreneur builds an organization to the point where it requires the type of leadership team noted above, it is time for him or her to move on – and do it all over again.

Leadership is not just about the use of conative instincts. But, nothing in my experience indicates that leaders, regardless of their M.O.s, initiate problem solving by using processes they have been taught. Their cognitive powers come into the process when they edit their instincts – and certainly when they second guess them. Leaders’ actions, triggered by whatever motivates them, are as tied to their instincts as their best salesperson’s instincts are tied to asking for the order. I do not belittle the power of the cognitive (it is not an after-thought in the Kolbe Creative Process). It’s a matter of what comes first.

Instincts are precognitive. If that weren’t true, we would have no heroes – or top leaders. Having closely observed the creative efforts of thousands of leaders in vastly different types of problem solving situations, I have yet to see an example of solutions being initiated by them during a period of contemplation. The actions that spark productivity are born from the innate, authentic powers of a leader’s instinctive drive.

3 Comments

Filed under Self-Help

Doing Nothing On Demand

One of my 5 Rules for Trusting your Instinct is
      Do Nothing – when Nothing Works¹

Rule-5-Do-nothing-when-nothing-works

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So why did I get so angry when traveling companions told me that they were committed to making sure I did not work while I was on vacation?

Because:

1.  If what I am doing is working for me, I do not need to, nor do I want to stop doing it.
2.  Deciding, of my own volition, when I will Do Nothing is essential for my acting according to my Free Will.
3.  What I do – my work – is my joy. To not be able to do it would be agony.
4.  Unless I am mentally incompetent, self-managing my mental energy is essential for me to be a productive human being.
5.  It is not a hardship for me to do what I do, and Doing Nothing is not something I would ever consider to be a reward.
6.  Doing Nothing ought never to be demanded by or enforced by others. It would be an attempt to assert their Will or control over my freedom to be myself.
7.  My work is my purpose. Rob me of it and you have taken my life.
8.  For me to be put in a place where I could only Do Nothing for an extended period of time would be putting me in Purgatory.
9.  Without striving to Do what I do, it would be impossible for me to thrive.
10.  I cannot plan ahead to Do Nothing, or prevent the need to Do Nothing. I have to Do Nothing On Demand – but not the demand of others.
11.  The appropriate demand to Do Nothing comes when my instincts require that I take a break – not when others think it is a good time for me to stop working (sorry Mom, well-meaning friends, and government/corporate regulators).

My instincts have sometimes had to scream pretty loudly for me to stop working (accidents are no accident). My instincts always have and always will have the final say.

1. Kathy Kolbe, Powered by Instinct (Momentus Press, 2004)

1 Comment

Filed under Self-Help

Why Monday Morning Blues During Happy Hour Sunset?

How could they be my friends and spend a lovely Sunday evening (while they could have been watching a magnificent sunset change from vibrant colors to muted tones) talking about how they were dreading going to work the next day. Both very intelligent, well-paid professionals were planning for their Monday Morning Blues.

“Why don’t you find jobs that you would love to do?” I asked, even though I knew the answer.

“It’s not that I don’t like my job, I would just prefer not to work,” one said.

“My job is filled with joy,” I said, realizing this would ruin their fun in complaining about their jobs, and make me an outsider. “Monday mornings are great, because I get to dive in to what I love doing.”

“You are not normal,” said the second, with a tone close to disgust, “I have to work at my stressful job until I can get my full retirement, because we want to be able to do lots of traveling when I’m done with it.”

“You’re your own boss, Kathy, so you don’t know what it’s like to have to work at a job where you have to do what others decide you should be doing,” said the other person.

“Yes, I created a work situation that gives me the freedom to be myself,” I said, “which, by the way, doesn’t give me retirement benefits. I’ll never retire. I look forward to working at doing something that I love doing for the rest of my life. I’m not waiting to have freedom, I have freedom.”

Eyes rolled and they both ordered another drink.

“You are not normal,” they said, in unison this time – with shared disgust in both their voices. “Part of the fun of Happy Hour is complaining about your job. Stop being a party pooper.”

7 Comments

Filed under Business, Self-Help

What I know about Being Gifted

Being gifted cognitively does not make you smart. Nor does it give you instinctive problem solving abilities, a better personality or a greater work ethic than others.

“Gifted” is a dumb label for high intelligence. It is a “gift’ that comes with no instructions, and is often like the proverbial “White Elephant.” It can be hard to figure out how to use it.

Being gifted adds to your workload

People with higher IQs often find it hard to use normal solutions.

If you have a high IQ this means:

You have to work hard to figure out how to get along with the majority of people who don’t “get it” as fast as you do.
If you don’t overcome this problem, you will be a terrible teacher/trainer/boss/roommate/team-member/next-door-neighbor.

You have to discover how and why you learn differently, because most teachers will not challenge you sufficiently.
If you don’t figure out that you have to be self-motivated, you’ll simply learn to regurgitate facts and not fulfill your potential as an excellent creative problem solver.

You have to work very hard to communicate the ideas in your head in ways that work for most others.
If you don’t make this happen, you will be frustrated by others not listening to you, or joining you in developing solutions you know are possible.

You have to work hard, some times to avoid the bad behaviors that stem from boredom.
If you don’t self-manage your mind, you will attract attention to yourself for all the wrong reasons.

“Over-achieving” is impossible. “Under-achieving” is a betrayal of possibilities.

Those who have a “gifted” mind do not have the option of re-gifting it. They have the responsibility of using it for good purposes.

Advantages of High Intelligence

Three characteristics, which could be used to define the unique nature of high intelligence are:

1. Ability to Anticipate Actions
2. Ability to Empathize
3. Ability to Manipulate

It’s because they have the first two abilities that gifted people CAN manipulate – for good or for not-so-good. They can to choose how and when to use this attribute.

When someone seems to “know” how you feel, it can be a sign of high IQ. However, do not confuse this with Caring about how you feel, which is, of course, in the affective domain rather than the cognitive.

Those who anticipate a movement in the stock market, or of a bear in the woods, or what will make a tree crash to the ground – are all showing higher degrees of IQ. Whether they act on it is an affective issue. How they act on it depends upon their conative instincts.

Being Gifted is Never the Whole Story

I was told as a child that I was highly gifted – in everything but math. Math turned out to be one of my greatest strengths as a theorist and entrepreneur. The terms “severely dyslexic and dysgraphic” weren’t used yet, so my weird way of reading and writing made some people think I wasn’t trying hard enough. It always took effort to “show them!” that my weird ways worked. It also took effort to prove that a severely gifted girl (born in the late 1930’s) didn’t have to play dumb. Most of all, it has required tons of effort to prove that a highly dyslexic person could play smart.

Effort is as essential for a gifted person as it is for any other person. This is understated in most literature on gifted education. Although I have been a university Adjunct Professor of Gifted Education, published “Resources for the Gifted,” and run programs for gifted youngsters, no amount of reading or discussion among experts in the field ever taught me as much on this subject as my observations and discussion with four generations of gifted family members. There is not a single one among them who has not had to work very hard to overcome challenges and discover their nitch in the world.

It is through interactions with gifted grandchildren, that I believe I have completed my home work. I finally consider myself a bona fide authority on the subject of Being Gifted.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Education

Why Instinct-based Education?

Instincts drive all actions, reactions and interactions – including individuals’ modes of learning:

  • Some kids react positively to repetition of information – others tune out
  • Some kids respond with lots of details – others ignore them
  • Some kids interact tangibly to internalize information – others are hands-off
  • Some kids actively add to discussions, others sit silently

We can see the differences among kids, both in classrooms and in homes, yet few educators and parents know how to nurture such a variety of learning modes. It is especially tough to help youngsters learn in ways that force you to work against your instinctive grain.

Instinct-based education doesn’t require that teachers or parents change their natural ways of taking action.  It requires understanding the natural impulses that drive how each student learns best– and providing options that help them learn to trust those instincts.

 “Trust your instincts,” is, after all, what we tell our kids to do in order to stay out of danger. Shouldn’t we help them figure out what that means?

Research has shown that instincts drive passive thoughts and emotions into action in the part of the brain known as conation. The goal is for kids to “Get Conative” – which means to get into their strongest conative or work-oriented gear.

How can a teacher or parent help kids trust their individual instincts when a classroom or family could include many combinations of 12 different instinctive strengths?                      

                             5 Steps for Success with Instinct-based Education

  1. Enable kids to discover their personal instinct-based strengths through valid assessments of them.
  2. Explain your own instinctive strengths as you use them, role modeling the benefits of being free to act on personal strengths.
  3. Help youngsters figure out how to adapt to your way of teaching/parenting, thereby instilling respect for your conative M.O. or instinctive methods, as well as teaching creative problem solving as a means of dealing with similarities and differences.
  4. Give youngsters permission to try alternative ways of initiating actions, helping them experience the benefits of getting into the right gear. For educators, this should include in-class projects and homework assignments. For parents, it should include family projects and the time/place/process they use to do homework.
  5. Have youngsters rate their experiences with the process, as well as the results, in order for them to learn the effectiveness of trusting their instincts.

Encouraging students to ask for options based on their instinctive needs makes them responsible for maximizing their strengths. Letting them know you will assist them in self-managing their instinct-based strengths makes them aware that you recognize the equality and significance of their natural conative abilities.

1 Comment

Filed under Self-Help