The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization? is written by Tom Gimbel, CEO of LaSalle Network.
There’s no magic formula to make people think creatively. Pushing people to think one way or another doesn’t result in creative ideas — it results in the same ideas. One way to start thinking more creatively is to study the way other people do their jobs. For example, look at another marketing team’s collateral, or how another person sells. Viewing others can spark good ideas, but in order to take those ideas to the next level, you have to be open-minded.
Podcasts. Books. Movies. Creative ideas can come from anywhere. I love listening to podcasts, and I encourage my employees to do the same. And it can be a podcast on anything: baseball, food, gardening, comic books, etc. The topic doesn’t need to directly relate to your day job. The point is to find out what you’re passionate about and immerse yourself in something different. This will allow you to know a little about a lot of things, which is important for a couple of reasons:
It gets your brain thinking differently
People who are typically the most creative in their roles are constantly thinking about what they can learn from other people, places, companies, etc. They can think about how something outside of their industry relates to their career. They’re curious. They don’t shut off the “work” part of their life when they leave the office. They’re engaged in their career, whether or not they’re “on the clock.” They take their career to the next level by thinking outside-of-the-box.
It allows you to have real conversations
One of the most important parts of having a successful career is developing real relationships with co-workers, customers, clients, and management. You can do this by having real conversations. No one wants to talk about the weather all day. When you learn about a lot of different things, you always have something to talk about. If a client starts talking about what was on the news last night or about a book they read, you can have a discussion with them. That’s going to grow the relationship, and grow business.