Make them think it’s their idea!
We’ve all heard this expression in change management: in order to get people on board and supportive of a new initiative, make them think it’s their own idea! And it works! People love to think that they were involved in shaping something new and exciting that is going to increase sales or improve productivity. Everyone feels great!
As leaders, our job is more complex than this. It’s not just about having great ideas ourselves and persuading others to come to the party; it’s about creating an environment where our people have great ideas too. If your organisation only ever does what its leader dreams up, then it’s only ever going to be as good as the leader. If instead your organisation executes the best of all the ideas generated by everyone, then the sky is the limit. Here’s why:
Motivation: research shows that people are motivated when they have skin in the game: people will give the discretionary extra if they are working to deliver their own invention. As Dale Carnegie (author of How to Win Friends and Influence People) said “there is only one way to get anybody to do anything: and this is by making the other person want to do it”. You could trick them into thinking it was their own idea, or you could have a high-performing team that actually wants to do the work, because they had a hand in designing what the work should look like.
More motivation: people are motivated when they feel valued. And by creating an environment where you lean on people to be creative and you use their input, your show how you value their thinking.
Diversity of thinking: your customers are diverse, so ensure your thinking is diverse. Consider the case of Nivea and their “White is purity” campaign (Google it) – I wonder what kind of organisation did not see that this could ostracise huge tranches of their market? On a serious note, it’s rate that any problem can be solved with only one perspective – problems are multi-faceted and solutions that have many authors are also muti-faceted.
Thinking styles: if your organisation only ever thinks as you do, then your blind spots (and we all have them) will become organisational rather than personal blind spots. Assembling a team that is able to think things through systematically, strategically and emotionally will likely come up with strong and more balanced ideas (and avoid car-crashes like the one above). A thinking organisation not only is more creative, but it protects itself from risk and failure.
ROI: you are paying your people to come to work. They won’t ask for extra if you ask them to think. And they will deliver more for the same money. So why not get better return on the investment you make in their salaries?
As a leader there are many things that you can do to create a culture where your organisation thinks and is heard. In the coming weeks I’ll be tackling two important activities that you as a leader can use to get the most out of your people and to deliver high-performance so look out for my articles on:
Listening: when one person listens, another person feels heard. We all know the expression “a problem shared is a problem halved” – this is so true. With my coaching clients, very often the act of talking about something and being heard already starts the process of transformation. Listening as a skill has many facets and I’ll be going into these as well as sharing some ways to evaluate your own listening skills and improving them
Coaching: this can be defined as partnering with someone to draw our their best thinking and help develop that into fulfilling courses of action. It is different to advising, to mentoring, and giving feedback. I’ll share a simple coaching model that will help you to start exploring the potential of the people in your team and to mobilise the thinking in your organisation
Meanwhile I’ll leave with you this video which illustrates the power of getting your whole organisation thinking. I first saw this when a member of my team shared it with his own leadership team – it gave us all a powerful framework to challenge our leadership styles and to lean on our people to be part of creating our future “good”.