Leadership Lessons from Dr Seuss

May 19, 2019 7:47 pm

I just read a book review that made me smile: ‘The Cat in the Hat and the Man who made that’. I smiled remembering growing up reading Dr Seuss books and as an adult reflecting on his vision and imagination. From the environment to diversity and inclusion, his books always seemed ahead of his time and simultaneously perfectly right for the time you read them. The book review highlights a few takeaways from the new book by Brian Jay Jones (I have not read the book yet).

Several things struck me as highly relevant for leading in a world of constant change.  First, is the observation that Theodor Geisel (Dr Seuss’s real name) evolved and adapted to changes in his world. He not only shifted his mindset/beliefs in response to his experiences but took action through his writing/drawing which influenced many others to shift their thinking and behaviour.

A second observation highlight by the reviewer, Adam Gopinik, which is relevant for today’s leaders is the value of boundaries and limitations in sparking creativity.  As Gopinik suggests, by restricting his use of vocabulary, Geisel produces “more poignantly memorable poetry”.  We so often think we have more freedom to be creative, when it is actually the boundaries that create the tension needed to innovate. Whether it be time pressure, commercial imperatives etc. – thinking about these limitations differently can encourage people to create. In fact, Gopinik points out in his review that “commercial motives can sometimes produce work of superior charm”. This is certainly my experience working with leaders across many industries.

This is consistent in our work at Learning Quest too. Specifically, clients request that we design development experiences to be ‘embedded into the flow of their work’ has significantly changed and improved our services. While the time restrictions and limitations on sharing content make it challenging to design development experiences, by embracing these requirements we have created innovative learning/development experiences that have a more profound, immediate and relevant impact on participants and their businesses (including TeamFAST™ our recently launched leadership team assessment/coaching program that enables leaders to achieve ‘real work results’ as a part of the program). And, we have had more fun in the process.


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