By Vikas Dua

As people managers, I’m sure all of us at various instances, have either been asked to ‘think differently’ or guided those in our teams to ‘think out-of-the-box’. The implicit instruction in this message being to think innovatively, ruminate differently and solve the problem at hand.

But, when managers do so, do they really mean it?

think box1

More often than not, I’ve noticed that we’re really looking at our teams at executing a plan that is already defined in our head. So, while there is an illusion of independence, there is really an invisible shackle that is deployed when evaluating the results of that team/individual. Does it gel with the hypothesis that I have, as a leader of the group? Does it reinforce what I already knew anyway (with my years of experience and creative insight)? Does it strengthen the perception of me being the smartest in the room?

This is truer for fledgling startups that have a founder or two who have birthed the idea. The fact that the business is their idea, makes everything about the business very close to heart. How can someone know something about the business better than I who thought of it in the first place? There just can’t be any roadblocks on my glory path.

So, if you find yourself at a point where you are not really expected to apply but to execute, and that goes against the grain of your personality – what do you do? My thought is that you have the below options –

  1. Add your ingredient into the mix – This is the safest option if you’re really not one to take the bull by the horns. Add your twist. Deviate a little from the plotted path. If your move, makes a positive difference, who knows you’ll probably be even appreciated. And this may give you the confidence for larger transgressions in the future.
  2. Have a heart-to-heart with your manager – Being upfront helps in life. Period. There’s frankly no point letting discontent simmer inside. Have a frank discussion with your manager explaining how you can add more value only if you’re able to actually ‘think and execute differently’. The output of the discussion will depend a huge deal on your manager’s maturity and you’ll have to take a calculated call before you exercise this option.
  3. Find your Holy Grail – In case options 2 and 3 above don’t pan out positively for you, I guess it’s best you find an environment that gives you the freedom that can aid your professional development. Move on.

Businessman and business sketch

Have you ever found yourself in situations like the ones I’ve indicated above? Would be great if you can share how you handled them. Write to me at or tweet @vykasdua

Vikas DuaVikas Dua currently leads recruitment for North Zone at Concentrix, a global BPM leader. He has over 16 years of diverse talent acquisition experience across service sectors like hospitality, ITES and education. Having done volume hiring, campus recruitment, lateral hiring, talent acquisition analytics and new-hire onboarding, Vikas is a well rounded TA specialist.