5 Ways to Reach Higher by Rattling Cages

Nothing frustrates leaders more than a past that keeps coming back and a future that never quite gets here.

Rattle cages today or the past stumbles into the future.

Successful cage rattling:

Don’t wait for a crisis to rattle cages today. Repetition produces stability. Stability eventually ends in stagnation.

Cage rattling is disruption. Disruption, at the beginning, is destruction.

5 ways to reach higher by rattling cages:

  1. Give authority to someone. You have team members who are almost ready for new challenges. ‘Almost ready’ is ready enough. Test someone who is almost ready with a short-term challenge.
  2. Leave a meeting early. Let the team finish without you.
  3. Create constraints. Boundaries rattle cages.
    • Shorten a timeline. (Do this occasionally, not as a permanent strategy.)
    • Create space for talent. Temporarily remove a person from the team. Who steps up?
  4. Delight customers in a new way today. What might you do today to make your customers feel great about their decision to buy your product or work with you?
  5. Ask new questions.
    • Who is adding the most value to the team? How might you give them new authority?
    • Where are we spinning our wheels?
    • If we could only get one thing done today, what would we do?
    • What will we do today to prepare for what matters tomorrow?

Tip: Rattling cages creates inefficiency at first.


Rattling cages isn’t punishment.

  • Affirm people.
  • Celebrate progress.
  • Don’t demonize the past.
  • Pursue something better.
  • Adopt a spirit of exploration.

Believe in people when you shake things up. Cage rattling isn’t punishment. It’s opportunity.

How might leaders rattle cages in positive ways?

What might you do today to rattle some cages? How might you rattle your own cage?