January 24, 2014

Lead with Their Gut

Have you ever thought of an idea then talked yourself out of it? Gladwell wrote a book about it. The thesis behind Blink was the power of thinking without thinking. We sense it’s the right call, and then we spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince ourselves we could perhaps possibly be maybe wrong I don’t know what do you think am I over thinking it perhaps maybe?

We ask for opinions to endorse our idea and when we meet resistance, we often fold. Yeah, it was a dumb idea. It wouldn't have worked, Joe said so.

Your Gut is not Alone

I was speaking with a colleague recently and he proclaimed that his staff often comes to him with what they think are good ideas but they’re not usually that good. I think that’s short-sighted. Sure, having a clear vision of your company and understand how your experience has arrived at that decision is key but if you make time to ask someone to elaborate and expand their ideas, you might be surprised.

If you’re not familiar, Google used to allow employees to spend 20% of their time working on ideas that may or may not have anything to do with their day job. Many products have come from employee ideas. Some of them may not have been that great to start, but there is an environment to flush them out and see if their gut is on to something. Some (me) think they should bring back the policy.

What Do You Think?

There are plenty of data to clearly show how disengaged employees will be the most destructive element of any business. And it’s not always easy to measure. A late meeting here, sloppy work there, missed deadline here, and suddenly the quality of work suffers. There’s a malaise that just seems to hover over everyone’s desk. The days of all for one have been replaced by everyone for themselves.

Leadership is not easy. But it’s nearly impossible if you think your gut has to make all the decisions. If you’re in a leadership position, write down a list of the times you have asked for others’ opinion – and meant it – in the last month. Now take the next month and triple that number.

No One Bats 1.000

Some of their ideas may not initially be great, but have a close look at your batting average before you act too fast. And this is not to suggest you have to create a suggestion box where everyone's ideas are immediately accepted. Just adopt an open mind policy and see what happens.

If you rely solely on your gut to create ideas for your business, you will run the risk of creating a culture of employees carrying out what they’re told.

Their real efforts will be seeking employment elsewhere.
Kneale Mann | Leadership Strategist, consultant, writer, speaker, executive coach facilitating performance growth with leaders, management, and teams.

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