When ego gets on the way
A few years ago, during one of my first team-building offsite meetings at Apple Hong Kong, we were having an open discussion regarding a big project we were all part of.
Our manager at the time, Dennis asked us, as a group of leaders to brainstorm and come up with a slogan. All 20+ managers turned their creative light bulb on and next, was pure and plain chaos: people talking on top of each other, parallel conversations, dozens of interrupted ideas… The extroverts were becoming more boisterous while the introverts were more withdrawn.
No one was winning.
Our manager was looking at us with a mix of frustration and amusement until he firmly told us: “Team, stop.”.
I thought, as probably many others did, that he was going to take the lead and stir the conversation in the direction he had in mind. He didn’t. Instead, he looked at us and said something more powerful:
“As a leader you don’t always have to have the best idea. In fact, more often than not you won’t. Your role is to allow all ideas, identify great ideas and let the best idea win”.
Let the best idea win
This completely reset the tone for the rest of that meeting, but for me, it was much more than that: it was a lifelong lesson I have carried throughout my career:
➡️ Create a safe environment where everyone has a voice
➡️ All ideas should be heard
➡️ Identifying great ideas is a skill in itself
➡️ Be humble: my idea is not the best and I am ok with it
➡️ Make great ideas better: if someone else has a great idea, rally the team around it and make it better
In your next leadership meeting, try this approach…you will be (positively) surprised with the results.