One of the mistakes I have seen by leaders and those promoting new ideas is failure to realize others are not at the same place they are. Because these leaders are so invested in an idea or a cause, there is sometimes a blind expectation that those around them have the same perspective and willingness to embrace their ideas as they do. In some cases, there is also the false expectation that people are just willing to accept ideas because they come from a position of “authority”, per the organizational chart. I am not exempt from making these mistakes, but as I progressed through my career, I have learned to be more cognizant to avoid them. I have become more patient, and I have come to realize that it does take effort to convince others to accept my ideas. One approach I adopted early on in my career and something I still practice today is that when I ask my team and colleagues to consider my ideas, I have to be ready to explain the reasons behind them. In addition to this approach, here are some helpful ideas to consider:
- Recognize the fact that others may not have the same emotional investment/attachment to your ideas. To promote buy-in, look at things from their perspective and what would motivate them to accept your ideas. Be ready to provide answers to their questions, such as “what’s in it for me?” which they may not explicitly ask.
- Provide others time to catch up to understand and learn. Chances are you have spent some time thinking and learning about your ideas and you have probably even become an expert at it. Having the reputation as an expert may add to your credibility, but keep in mind that speaking in “expert language” may not always connect with those new to your ideas. Think like a beginner and communicate in such a way that can connect by speaking the language of the audience. Information considered trivial may not be so trivial to others.
- Plant the seeds and ask others to help ideas grow. While you may have been the one to come up with the idea, you will need the support of others for it to grow. Sharing ownership by encouraging contributions, acknowledging their ownership, and working together to implement them are effective ways to ensure ideas mature.
- Do not care so much about who gets the credit. If the goal is for ideas to come to fruition, then focus on the considerations previously mentioned. In some cases, need to step away and let others take full ownership to take the ideas to the next level.
One of the satisfying aspect of my job is seeing ideas, no matter where they came from, come into fruition. Even greater is seeing a community work together to make things happen. Ideas beget ideas, leaders beget leaders.
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