How can business leaders drive innovation and avoid falling into a rut? Senior executive, mentor, and visionary Andrew Malek offers insights into the evolving workforce, the role of technology, and the significance of fostering creativity in today’s workplace.
Whether you’re a CEO who wants to shift the way your teams communicate with one another or an entrepreneur hoping to cultivate a change-oriented mindset, you’ll glean important insights into the process of innovation with Andrew Malek’s tips.
#1: Remain Open to Change
Fostering a company culture of innovation starts at the top, says Andrew Malek. “You can promote the importance of creativity and experimentation all you want,” says Malek, “but if your top executives aren’t open to changing the way they do things as well, you won’t get far.”
While there’s a time to be methodical and stick to tried-and-true methods, you should set aside times when you and your colleagues across different teams and positions can feel free to explore areas for improvement and creative growth. Andrew Malek suggests, “Hold micro-brainstorming sessions regularly, whether digitally or in person. Full-fledged retreats a few times during the year could serve as catalysts for ongoing, smaller opportunities for collaboration. Make sure that everyone feels free to speak freely at any sessions you set up.”
#2: Form Smaller Communities for Collaboration
Everyone’s personality and creative flow is different. Some employees will feel comfortable in large group settings, while others won’t necessarily feel free to experiment and play around with new ideas except in smaller, more intimate environments.
Cross-team collaboration is especially important to shifting the mindset that many of us can fall into. Marketers should talk with engineers, says Andrew Malek, and C-level executives should be regularly interacting with team members at different levels. This will keep ideas fresh and new rather than remaining static. “Forming micro-communities across levels and teams can also prevent the kinds of miscommunication that can stop potential innovation in its tracks,” adds Malek.
Andrew Malek, former CEO/President of the environmental, planning, and engineering consulting firm AKRF, Inc., is an executive and visionary with an eye towards the best practices of the future. Andrew Malek served on the Board of Directors of an $80 million company, developed a strategic growth plan for the entire firm, and implemented financial improvements that increased annual cash flow and retained earnings resulting in improved working capital. Andrew Malek is known as a dynamic leader with a knack for spotting, attracting, and hiring top-notch talent. Andrew Malek cultivates growth and longevity and serves as a dedicated, inspirational mentor to his many employees and colleagues.
Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable is a key ingredient to successful leadership, according to Andrew Malek. Andrew Malek is a senior engineering executive with a knack for being innovative while identifying and developing profitable growth in entrepreneurial environments. One of the factors to his success is his willingness to leave his comfort zone.
As a CEO, it is not a good sign to be comfortable all the time, Andrew Malek said. True growth is not possible unless a leader is pursuing challenges and taking risks. Ken Poirot said, “True success is achieved by stretching oneself, learning to feel comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Being uncomfortable does not sound like anything someone would voluntarily do, Andrew Malek acknowledged. However, once it is put into practice, great benefits can be observed. Progress is possible when people accept change, and change is usually uncomfortable. As a leader, it is necessary to model this trait so employees can learn from example and be willing to challenge themselves, too.
Andrew Malek suggested starting small with leaving your comfort zone in personal life and business. Of course, it is not necessary to change your personality overnight. Even listening to unfamiliar music, trying cuisine you have never tasted or reading a new genre of book can get you used to the practice of trying new things and being uncomfortable. Once you take small steps in that direction, it becomes easier to make bigger changes and take more risks, Andrew Malek has found.
Huff Post points out that people see the term stress as a “dirty word,” but some stress is actually beneficial when it offers motivation to take action and grow. When we are comfortable, we enjoy not facing that stress and anxiety and knowing what the next steps will be.
“Being slightly uncomfortable, whether or not by choice, can push us to achieve goals we never thought we could,” said Alina Tugend in the New York Times. Of course, creating too much stress is counterproductive, which is why Andrew Malek recommends taking small steps out of your comfort zone to ease yourself in. When it is done correctly, being comfortable with being uncomfortable provides opportunities to grow, change, see things from a fresh perspective and be creative.
Andrew Malek knows from experience that getting out of your comfort zone can be hugely rewarding. His willingness to challenge himself and through trial and error, and not being afraid to fail, Andrew Malek achieved success, and he credits being okay with being uncomfortable as a key ingredient.
The virtue of setting goals is often emphasized in the business culture, from making New Year’s resolutions (which only 8% of resolution-setters actually accomplish) to long-term goals for a business or company.
Andrew Malek, a dynamic senior executive, maintains that there is certainly value in creating business goals. Of course, as Antoine de Saint-Exupery put it, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” It is vitally important to create a plan to stay focused on business goals to keep distractions at bay, advised Andrew Malek.
In his own work, Andrew Malek has been an inspirational leader who recognizes and attracts talent, builds trust, develops people and creates stability and longevity. He said one of the keys to success in the workplace is maintaining focus on goals. Here are three ways he recommends to make this a habit.
1. Set Realistic Expectations
As most people know from experience, setting unattainable goals sets a business up for discouragement and disappointment. Create realistic business goals that can be met in a set period of time, Andrew Malek said. This does not mean goals should not be challenging making everyone work a bit harder: they certainly should, Andrew Malek explained. Just be realistic when setting the plan. This makes it easier to stay focused and motivated, Andrew Malek added.
It is also helpful to set smaller goals to focus on instead of one large business goal. Have targets to hit each month and bite-sized goals to work toward. This strategy will help you stay motivated as you see yourself reaching those goals and advancing toward your ultimate goal. However, it’s also very beneficial for everyone’s moral to celebrate those small victories along the way.
2. Have a Visual Reminder
A visual reminder is simply an assurance that your goal is always on your mind, Andrew Malek said. Then there is no excuse for veering off course or forgetting what you want to focus on. Some people choose a simple Post-it note, some put a chart or poster on the wall of their business or create a vision board. Whatever serves as a visual reminder for your company is a highly effective tool, Andrew Malek added.
Kasey Luck of Bold and Zesty said she writes her goal in several places around her workplace. “I word it in a way as if it already happened,” she said. “It becomes a sort of ‘incantation’ or a visual exercise, and I repeat it every morning.’”
3. Manage Your Time Wisely
Your time is the most valuable resource you have, Andrew Malek said, and too often people waste it on tasks that do not bring them closer to accomplishing their biggest business goals. Budget your time each day and week, keeping in mind the biggest things you need to accomplish. If you are not making progress toward your goals, look carefully at how you are spending your time. What could you stop doing or delegate, or what adjustments you need to make to your schedule so you have time to focus on your business goals?
These three techniques are just the tip of the iceberg, Andrew Malek explains. There are many tools to help stay focused on goals and accomplish big things in a business. However, these tips are a good starting point and are helpful tools Andrew Malek has benefited from in his own years of business.
Andrew Malek Shares Advice to Grow Company’s Brand, Image, By Having Vision
It is crucial to continuously strengthen your company’s brand in order to maintain a positive message and direction within the company as well as beyond it, said Andrew Malek, a senior executive. There are several ways to achieve this, and Andrew Malek believes they all have to do with setting a vision; having a strong, clear vision and communicating it with others.
Andrew Malek has utilized these techniques in his career to strengthening company brands with very positive results. Andrew Malek is a proven leader recognized for his ability to set a challenging vision, promote, stimulate and expand growth, and enrich companies’ value. He has seen many companies attempt to strengthen their image, but Andrew Malek maintained that nothing is as effective as being an active visionary and sharing the business initiatives and strategic planning ideas with other key stakeholders.
Being a visionary
A visionary is a person who plans for the future with wisdom as well as imagination. In today’s growing and changing marketplace, being a leader with vision is essential for success, Andrew Malek explained. Having a vision for the future and a plan of how to get there is the key approach to achieving long-term success in a company. Being realistic but highly motivated will ensure the vision becomes a reality.
Communicating your vision
It is critical for a leader to have a vision, but it is also imperative to convey it to company leadership and key staff, Andrew Malek emphasized. In fact, it is through the lack of this articulation that visionary leadership can fail, according to Harvard Business Review. “Our research finds that the positive impact of visionary leadership breaks down when middle managers aren’t aligned with top management’s strategic vision. This can cause strategic change efforts to slow down or even fail,” an article on Harvard Business Review states.
Communicating your vision with the company not only ensures everyone is on the same page and has the same goals, Andrew Malek said, it can also become a source of employees’ motivation and inspiration.
Executive and Visionary Andrew Malek On the Importance of Grit for a Strong Leader
Grit is defined as “courage and resolve; strength of character” and in recent years, grit has gotten a lot of attention as a crucial characteristic for being a good leader. In her New York Times bestseller “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” Angela Duckworth explains that grit, more than talent, determines a successful leader. Andrew Malek, a senior executive, also emphasizes recognizing the importance of grit helped him become a dynamic leader.
Angela Duckworth even provides a “grit scale” where people can find out how “passionate and preserving” they see themselves. Statements to evaluate on this scale include “Setbacks don’t discourage me. I don’t give up easily” and “I finish whatever I begin.” Andrew Malek mentioned this scale is a good jumping-off point to determine whether grit is a trait that comes naturally or needs to be further honed.
Grit means finding perseverance and sustainable passion to work toward long-term goals, rather than growing discouraged and giving up when things do not work out as quickly as one might hope.
As anyone who has been in the workplace knows, it is inevitable to encounter frustrations, tedium, and setbacks, no matter how hardworking or earnest one may be. But possessing grit requires setting aside the emotions and natural frustrations and continuing to strive toward a long-term goal with tenacity.
One key component to grit is commitment. Many leaders are excellent at making goals and commitments, Andrew Malek indicates, but the follow-through can be lacking. Leaders must model commitment and expect it from their team as well. He recommends regular follow-ups with team members to discuss commitment to achieving goals rather than just talking about it at annual review time.
Andrew Carnegie said, “Men are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold; but one doesn’t go into the mine looking for dirt— one goes in looking for the gold.” A good leader must persevere through the dust and dirt with a goal in mind— this is true grit.
Andrew Malek added, another way to cultivate the characteristic of grit is to read inspiring stories of leaders who have had persevered with passion through difficult circumstances. In her book, Angela Duckworth shares plenty to get started with: teachers working in tough schools, young finalists in the National Spelling Bee, Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll. These stories are inspirational examples of grit in action.
Pursuing grit as one of the chief components of strong leadership creates a workplace that is conducive to growth. Andrew Malek credits this quality as one of the factors for his success and believes it is a leader’s responsibility to not only convey this trait, but also serve as a catalyst to inspire others to further develop their resiliency.
Andrew Malek Shares Top Tips for Optimistic, Inspirational Leadership Techniques
Though often overlooked, it is one of the key components of effective leadership.
When a leader is confident about successful outcomes for the future, it can motivate an entire company to push themselves to achieve planned expectations.
Seeing the best in people and expecting the best from employees and yourself is a key to being an effective leader, said Andrew Malek, an executive leader, and former CEO. Since optimism does not come naturally to all strong leaders, it’s essential to cultivate it.
Here are some suggestions from Andrew Malek.
1. Understand what optimism is.
Optimism does not mean having a naïvely rosy view of a situation, Andrew Malek emphasized. In an interview with NBC News, LMSW Kimberly Hershenson said, “Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you ignore life’s stressors. You just approach hardship in a more productive way.”
Approaching difficulties in the workplace with the confidence of a successful outcome, rather than feeling a situation is hopeless, will produce the positive rewards of optimism. Cultivate compassionate, creative approaches to problem-solving with the expectation of success will ensure a more effective outcome.
2. Consider the positive effects of optimism.
When challenged, it is tempting to get down on yourself and your employees, but bear in mind the benefits of being an optimistic leader and do not fall into the trap of negative thinking.
According to NBC News, research shows there are tangible benefits to having a positive outlook. Optimism creates physical and mental resilience, better cardiovascular health and immune system, more successful relationships and even a lengthened lifespan. An article published in Harvard Men’s Health Watch discussed a U.S. study that found the most pessimistic individuals had a 42% higher rate of death than the most optimistic.
When it seems pointless to maintain an optimistic outlook, remember the impact optimism has on yourself as a leader as well as the workplace.
“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be,” Mahatma Gandhi said. “If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
3. Replace “Negative” with “Positive”
As human beings, we have the choice to live in the negative or positive. On daily basis events and interactions with people impact our thoughts in many different ways.
We cannot ignore the fact that a negative thought has the potential to negatively influence our total being and soon can impact other thoughts.
Therefore, the best course of action is to be vigilant and actively replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
4. Surround yourself with positive and complementary individuals.
The people you surround yourself with have an influence on your thought patterns, Andrew Malek said. Negativity is contagious, but so is optimism and positive thinking.
Find co-workers, friends, and companions who are positive, and their mindset will rub off. When you are trying to cultivate optimism,
Andrew Malek said, being around others who share those priorities too is one of the best steps you can take.