I was in a client meeting last week on a consulting piece of work. As a part of the exercise, I invited the management and the team leaders to a brainstorming session.
I started by giving the background and asking people how they would arrive at a solution.
Well, as I expected, the middle management started to share their thoughts followed by some members of the executive team.
Then the team leaders started to open up. When some team leaders spoke of things that made remote sense to the managers and executives, they quickly shunt them to silence. They simply shut the passage to thinking.
Speaking in front of a group is a challenge in itself and in front of your senior management, you are staring at Mt. Everest. If somebody has to conquer this challenge, they are taking big risks. Risk takers are the ones who come through. You have several examples in the form of Zuckerbergs and Pages who took the risk and came out on the top successfully. If they hadn’t do you believe that their giants would have born today? So, in the day when taking risks amount to achieving, by shunting out people who take risks, you are shooting down the thinker. You are bringing down an innovation. You are killing an unborn child.
When ideas get shot down, people are afraid to take risks. People avoiding making mistakes by not attempting at all. People don’t want to learn from their mistakes or others. The Zuckerbergs and Pages did not get their innovation right the very first time they invented, it took them several tries and eventually they came out on the top.
The thinking circle goes something like this :
As leaders, it is your core responsibility to let this circle complete the cycle as many times as it takes. You can lead by being a role model who has the ability to take risks, to make mistakes, to be public about your mistakes, and to learn from your mistakes is absolutely critical in getting innovation into your business and helping you stay ahead of the competitive game.