Managers often pay lip service to the concept of "walking the shop floor", but James Stanger, senior director of product development at CompTIA, an IT trade association, suggests going beyond the typical pat-on-the-back mentality. Instead, get to know how your direct reports, your colleagues and your customers view the world.
"In middle management, due to the demands of the job and just trying to get it done, people get these blinders on, and they don't think about how others think," Stanger says. Try asking: What do you think about this problem? What's your perspective? Can you explain your need here?
"Take those blinders off and you'll find yourself much more nimble in your thinking," Stanger says, which in turn will make you a better problem-solver -- a valued leadership quality.