The other day, my 19-year-old daughter accused me of invalidating her feelings. Let's rewind a bit for context. She expressed a desire for something in her life, and as her mother, I instinctively felt it wasn't the best for her. But her point was striking: it wasn't about the future possibility of changing her mind; it was about being heard and validated in the present moment.
She was essentially saying, "You're not hearing me."
This got me thinking. As a leader, how often have we dismissed someone's ideas because they didn't align with our own? How often have we, perhaps unintentionally, made someone feel smaller, unheard, or invalidated?
My daughter and I share a strong bond, one where she can challenge me without fear. This is crucial in leadership too. If we want innovation, we need to establish a foundation in our relationships where our team feels safe to challenge us and bring forth their ideas. It's in the synergy of listening and building upon each other's ideas that true innovation is born.
When our teams are afraid to speak up, the cost is immense. It's not just about heading in the wrong direction; it's about the loss of engagement, productivity, and the unimaginable cost of stifling innovation.
How do you ensure your team feels safe to voice their opinions and ideas?
An Idea to Consider
Next time someone presents an idea you disagree with, try to find the 10% of it that might be valid. Responding with, "What I like about your idea is..." not only makes them feel heard but also keeps the flow of ideas alive.
This approach isn't just about being nice; it's about being smart. It's about understanding that the path to innovation is paved with diverse thoughts and the willingness to listen, even when we disagree. It's about recognizing that sometimes, the most groundbreaking ideas come from the most unexpected places.