Creative LeadershipCreativity

Great Ideas are a Two Way Street

I’m an idea person.  I love them.  I cultivate them.  And I want our company to value them, and our clients to benefit.  I’ve written a lot about the importance of creating a culture in your organization that encourages original thinking.  Not enough leaders know how to grow and develop innovative people.  However – there’s a flip side to the equation – and that’s the responsibility to respect talented people and not waste their time.

I once had a young employee who was brand new to the business.  He needed time to learn and grow.  But from his first day on the job, he felt compelled to share every idea that popped into his head.  He would interrupt meetings over and over, and passionately explain his ideas – no matter how lame or unworkable they were.

At first I put up with it, because you never know where your next great idea will come from.  But then I realized what a drag he was on everyone else’s creativity.  Even though he had no experience at all in our company or business – he had no hesitation interrupting far more experienced and original thinkers and spouting his bonehead theories.

I talked to him about it, but nothing could stop his torrent of bad ideas. So he doesn’t work with us anymore.

There’s no question – it’s a delicate balance between creating an open atmosphere of original thinking, and yet valuing the people in the room. Respect other creative talent.   Don’t censor yourself too much, but take a deep breath, consider your own experience and expertise, and be very sensitive to the responsibility of being on a creative team.

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