Leading the Thinking

The status quo is never good enough.  The best leaders I have worked with continuously challenge the thinking, blow up business models, and constantly question how they can get their organization to a better place.  This is what leading the thinking is all about. When you focus on leading the thinking you will see new trends, opportunities, and risks before your competitors see them.  You can shape the market rather than having the market shape you.  You might uncover huge new breakthrough opportunities that get your team excited about their work.  But the only way you can see these things is to dedicate time and energy to thinking about them.  Your leading the thinking maxims will help you do just that.

A maxim by definition is a principle or rule of conduct.  In the context of the leadership maxims approach, it is a short, personally meaningful and easily explained statement that reflects one of your beliefs about leadership.  Maxims do not contain buzzwords.  Maxims are simple, clear statements that serve as reminders for how you want to behave and lead and how you want your team members to behave.

I invite you to share your maxims and ideas related to leading the thinking in this forum.  Simply write your maxim and share the personal story behind it in the comments below.  I’ve shared a few of my own.  I look forward to reading yours. If you’re interested in courses we teach related to leading the thinking, just look for the LT icon on our course listing page.

9 Comments → “LEADING THE THINKING”


  1. Mike Watson

    3 years ago

    I learned early on and was reminded again recently, “That which is ignored will wither away and die”. I utilize this saying as a warning and as encouragement and I often discuss it along with the idea of “attachment means pain”. Constantly assess in the moment what you are paying attention to and what you are ignoring, if it supports your values then continue, allowing things to go away is a way to grow, just like nurturing something, looking at these relationships ensures that your energy and efforts are directed and meaningful. Be willing to let go, so you can grow.

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  2. Todd Cherches

    5 years ago

    Wisdom comes not from answering questions…but from questioning answers. Never stop questioning. Always seek to know Why. That’s where the understanding and the learning happens.

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  3. Edna Pasher

    5 years ago

    “Focus on opportunities and strengths. Don`t bother with threats and weaknesses.”

    This is my way of helping my clients in strategic processes to move fast with positive energy. I cut Porter`s SWOT into SO. I like to give the example that schools would do better for our children if they focus this way too. Too much time is spent in schools on identifying where the child has problems and helping him overcome it instead of identifying what the child is good at and develop his strengths!

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  4. Keith

    5 years ago

    The best fertilizer that a man can put on his soil is his own shadow.

    My grandfather was a very hardworking man, a vegetable produce farmer, went to be with the Lord in the 70s. He was extremely active and worked on his farm beyond 80 years old, an age where vegetable farming and harvest was manual labor except for soil preparation and tilling. His maxim was, “The best fertilize that a man can put on his soil is his own shadow”. There is so much truth in that maxim.

    The lives we live nowadays are so significantly interrelated. We have become so dependent upon each other in the society we have become. My grandfather was an expert in every aspect of having a successful farming operation; very independent. Nowadays, I often hit stumbling blocks in life because I am waiting on someone else to solve my problem. The aging and maturity process keeps teaching me the importance of the amount of time that I put my own shadow on the work I am doing. If any part of my life is slipping behind then I need to fertilize it with my shadow.

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  5. Victoria Krayna

    5 years ago

    Whatever I desired to achieve, I knew that motivation and desire weren’t going to be enough to propel me into sustainable action [think fitness goals, earning a degree, writing a book…] I came across this quote by Mario Andretti early in my career, “Desire is the key to motivation, but it is determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”

    Commitment to one’s own personal and professional goals positions individuals to learn, grow, and become an inspiration through which others are blessed by that individual’s unique gifts, aptitudes, experiences, passions, training, and skills. Commitment to a well-defined course of action, plus a clear future picture and drive ignites action. Bridging the gap between motivation and commitment requires championing excellence in each endeavor, relationship, and process one is involved in. Fortunately, the hard work that steadfast commitment commands has payoffs worth the sacrifice – a reputation for excellence, character, integrity, and courage.

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  6. Veronique

    5 years ago

    As a consultant, I frequently run into clients who argue to maintain the status quo. They don’t want to entertain thoughts of new ways of doing business. One time I was working with a consulting partner and she was encountering similar resistance. I watched her let the client make all their excuses about why they were doing things the way they were. When he finished explaining she asked him “So how’s that working out for you?” The client sheepishly admitted the way they were doing things wasn’t working well and from that point my partner was able to open a conversation about how to think differently. Now I use her saying of “So how’s that working out for you?” as my maxim to constantly challenge the way I and others think.

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  7. Kevin

    5 years ago

    My dad used to tell me “Don’t just stand there – do something!” He usually said it when he wanted me to help him clean the garage, work in the yard, or any other weekend chores. After a while that saying set in for me. Any time I found myself standing around with my hands empty, I’d hear him saying that in my mind and it would spur me on to just do something and be helpful. Now, whenever I’m at work and I’m not clear on how best to help out, rather than just standing there waiting for direction, I just start doing something (and usually it ends up being pretty helpful).

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    • Mike Figliuolo

      5 years ago

      Great way to think about taking action! There’s nothing worse than just standing around wondering what to do when clearly there’s a *lot* to do. Sure there’s a time for thinking but more often than not, the person who puts thought into action ends up winning the game.

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  8. John

    5 years ago

    The thing that has always gotten me to be more innovative and lead the thinking in my organization is to ask “What would Steve Jobs do?” I’ve always loved Apple’s products and I admire Steve a great deal. When I use that maxim, it gets me to think differently about the problem and come at things from a different perspective. Usually something new and interesting comes out of that thought process.

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