Success comes from doing what others are not doing. Whether you are a professional looking for a job, or a small business breaking out into a new market or a major organization trying the beat the competition, in order to win the day, you need to be different. Otherwise, no one will notice you.


To be different, you need to be ‘contrarian by nature’.


Open MindThis week, I highlight another of the “10 Things Smart Business People Do” by Roy Osing in The Globe and Mail on June 3, 2016.
In his article, he says that smart business people (and great leaders) “are contrarian by nature. They believe that the source of opportunity lies not in copying what others are doing, but rather charting a course that no one else is on. They are ‘180-degree thinkers.’


I liked the idea of 180-degree thinking. I found a slightly dated blog post by Marty Baker called “The Creativity of 180-Degree Thinking” where Barker says: “180 Degree Thinking – ultimately, it’s about pushing your mind in the opposite direction to develop accidental or reverse directed brilliance.”


I am often asked for advice from people about getting a job or breaking into a new market and the first thing that always comes to mind is ‘Be unique – be different’. Today’s markets are crowded – with good people, good products, good companies and good ideas. The competition is fierce. So to win, to get the job, successfully launch a product or beat the competition, you need to stand out in the crowd.


The contrarian stands out in the crowd. They look at the normal and think of the opposite. They look at the flow of traffic and seek out an alternative.


All of this focuses on the creative side – the new an exciting stuff.


But what about just being a good leader? How can we use contrarian thinking to be a better leader day-to-day? By acting differently. By putting aside the leadership manual and surprising the staff and the customers. Past posts in this space provide a long list of things leaders can do that will help them stand out: the office walk-about, a day working on the front line, adding humour to your repertoire, being humble and more.
Great leaders know when and how to be the contrarian. For themselves and for those around them.


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