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Thinking Outside the Box: A Leaders Approach to Success


Christopher E. Maynard


When it comes to achieving success in any field, one of the most valuable skills that an individual can possess is the ability to think outside the box. Thinking outside the box refers to the ability to approach problems and challenges in a creative and innovative way, rather than relying on traditional or conventional methods. This skill can be especially valuable for leaders, who are often tasked with finding new solutions to complex problems and driving their organizations forward.

So, what does it mean to think outside the box as a leader, and why is it so important? In this article, we will explore the concept of thinking outside the box in more detail, discuss some of the benefits of this approach, and provide practical tips for how leaders can develop and hone their own outside-the-box thinking skills.

What is Thinking Outside the Box?

Thinking outside the box is a term that is often used to describe a type of creative problem-solving that is not constrained by traditional or conventional thinking patterns. When we think outside the box, we approach problems from new and unconventional angles, using creative and innovative strategies to find solutions that may not be immediately obvious.

The term "thinking outside the box" is thought to have originated in the late 1960s or early 1970s, and it has since become a popular catchphrase in the worlds of business, education, and creativity. In many ways, thinking outside the box has become synonymous with innovation and progress, as it allows individuals to break free from established ways of thinking and find new and better ways of doing things.

Why is Thinking Outside the Box Important for Leaders?

For leaders, thinking outside the box can be an incredibly valuable skill. In today's fast-paced and rapidly-changing business landscape, leaders are often required to make quick decisions and adapt to changing circumstances on the fly. This requires a certain level of agility and flexibility, as well as the ability to approach problems from new and unexpected angles.

By thinking outside the box, leaders can often find solutions to problems that may have eluded more conventional thinkers. They can identify new opportunities and innovative approaches to business challenges, helping to drive their organizations forward and stay ahead of the curve.

Additionally, leaders who think outside the box are often seen as more creative and dynamic, which can help to build trust and inspire confidence among their teams. When leaders are able to approach problems in new and innovative ways, it sends a clear message that they are willing to take risks and explore new ideas, which can be incredibly motivating for employees.

How to Think Outside the Box as a Leader:

So, how can leaders develop and hone their outside-the-box thinking skills? Here are some practical tips:

Challenge Your Assumptions: One of the keys to thinking outside the box is to challenge your assumptions about how things "should" be done. Ask yourself why you are approaching a problem in a certain way, and whether there might be alternative solutions that you haven't considered.

Encourage Diversity of Thought: To foster outside-the-box thinking in your organization, it's important to encourage diversity of thought and perspectives. Seek out input from a wide range of team members, and be open to ideas and approaches that may be different from your own.

Embrace Failure: Thinking outside the box often involves taking risks and trying new things, which means that failure is inevitable at times. Embrace failure as a learning opportunity, and encourage your team to do the same.

Experiment and Iterate: When you're trying to think outside the box, it's often helpful to experiment and iterate on your ideas. Don't be afraid to try something new and see what happens, and be willing to make adjustments along the way.

Cultivate a Creative Environment: Finally, it's important to cultivate a creative environment that supports outside-the-box thinking. This might mean creating dedicated brainstorming sessions or providing resources and tools that encourage creativity and innovation. You might also consider offering training or professional development opportunities focused on creative problem-solving and outside-the-box thinking.


Thinking outside the box is a critical skill for leaders who want to drive innovation and success in their organizations. By challenging assumptions, encouraging diversity of thought, embracing failure, experimenting and iterating, and cultivating a creative environment, leaders can develop and hone their outside-the-box thinking skills, and inspire their teams to do the same. With the right mindset and approach, leaders can approach problems with creativity and innovation, finding new and better solutions that can help to drive their organizations forward in a constantly evolving business landscape.

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