Sticky solutions to your everyday business challenges
Question: I’m leading a team that’s tasked to build a program for high-potential employees. We started three weeks ago, and I find that I’m shooting down most of the ideas of my team members. I can tell that they are getting frustrated, but I don’t know how to be more receptive to their input. Any suggestions?
Answer: The ability to be a natural recipient of the ideas of others is key to team leadership. Some of us are hard wired to look for holes in others’ logic, or spot the weaknesses in their ideas. But, very few ideas start out fully baked. As the leader, your job is to create an environment that encourages, rather than thwarts, the best ideas from your team.
The 24 x 3 Rule
To bring out your inner optimist, try the 24 x 3 rule. The next time you hear an idea for the first time, wait 24 seconds before saying or even thinking something negative. Instead of letting your mind seek and destroy flaws in logic, that 24-second period will help you build your listening skill. Once you’ve mastered suppressing your inner critic for 24 seconds, try to do it for 24 minutes. At the 24-minute level, you can give more considered thought to a new idea and think more carefully about why it may actually work.
As you may have guessed, you will eventually want to work toward the ability to wait 24 hours — one whole day — before thinking or verbalizing the cons against an idea. Of course, we don’t always have the luxury of moving at this pace, but the mindfulness practice of the 24 x 3 rule will help you develop a more receptive approach to the ideas of your team members.
Not every idea is going to be a home run. But, building a creative team that can course correct itself starts with you. Master the 24 x 3 rule and you will transform your suppressive style into one that encourages constructive conflict and debate.