The Hidden Power of Lists

The Top 5 Lists to Increase Success

We’ve all seen lists used to inform and inspire, whether it be Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 5000,” or Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” we’re drawn to lists. Numbered lists define quantity, progression, structure and importance.

While the lists above have been created by outsiders, what would the benefit be to creating lists internally? From a pure execution perspective, lists can advance the problem-solving process and engage employees more as they are involved with the decision-making process. Some lists, designed properly, can help employees get to know each other better. And, from an employee perspective, lists have been shown to decrease anxiety. They force us to slow down, clear our head, and help us to prioritize.

Below are five lists that you can use with your team to improve team effectiveness and understand each other better:

1. Pros and Cons

These lists are used in decision making and help to document both sides of an argument which alleviates confusion and uncertainty of decisions. The lists help you to visualize the pros and cons of a specific decision. Once the list is completed, you can assign weights to each item, similar to what Ben Franklin described to his friend Joseph Priestley who was faced with making a difficult decision. Once your list is completed, you can review and reflect using questions like: What am I getting? What am I giving up? Which factors really matter?

2. Goals

Whether it be personal or professional, the mere act of writing goals down makes them more real than if they remain inside your head. Listing goals helps you and your team to focus on the important not the urgent, provides clarity in your decision making, and gives you direction–a road map into the future. And a personal goal list can act as an aid in career and development conversations with your manager.

3. Gratitude

Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you have versus focusing on what you don’t have. Research has shown that practicing gratitude has a number of benefits including: improving psychological and physical health, sleep patterns, relationships, and decision making. How can simple statements help you in all these aspects of your life? Because when we express gratitude our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two chemicals responsible for making us feel good.

4. Brainstorming

Whether it be solving a problem or developing a new product or service, brainstorming lists are a great way to kick off the process. When you start to build your own list, it’s a starting point for more ideas because you clear your mind as you add to your list. And, when you share your list with others, their feedback can open the minds of all to other ideas. What started as one or two ideas can multiply quickly, providing you with multiple options to solve a problem.

5. Get to Know You

These lists are designed to be shared in a group meeting. They are great to use as meeting ice breakers or with team building. They will help team members and you understand each other better. Here are some list ideas to start with:

Two ideas for improving team dynamics
Three things that make me proud to work for the company
Two things that I don’t like managers doing
Two things you would like to see managers do more of
Three heroes in your life
Two books you would recommend
Three places you want to visit
Five fun activities you like to participate in

Lists can be an integral part of building your team’s decision making, problem solving, and relationships. Which list do you plan on using with your team?

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