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4 Ugly Truths That Great Leaders Know About Good Ideas

GREAT leaders know 4 UGLY truths about GOOD ideas.

Are you aware of them?

Ugly Truth #1: There are more good ideas than you and your organization have the capacity to accomplish. 

You must learn to say ‘no’ to good ideas – even great ideas at times. This is a hard one. There are more good ideas then you and your organization have the capacity to accomplish. Honestly, who wants to say “no” to a good idea? Whenever you are about to fall into this trap, remember that great leaders learn how to say “no” to good ideas. In fact, they learn to say “no” to great ideas, so they accomplish with excellence whatever they chose to tackle.

Ugly Truth #2: Every good idea faces a natural enemy.

Chris McChesney, the author of The 4 Disciplines of Execution, talks about the ‘whirlwind’. This is the tremendous amount of energy it takes to keep an organization running. Most of us operate in an extremely busy world. Phone calls, emails, meetings, client requests, and a myriad of other demands compete for our time, energy, and attention. When the whirlwind meets a new goal, left to its own devices, the whirlwind wins.

Why? The whirlwind demands attention – it screams urgency. It is a good ideas natural enemy.

Don’t believe me, I bet as you read this post, a new email showed up in your inbox – “Hello, Whirlwind!”

Ugly Truth #3: Saying something is a good idea may accidentally get the ball rolling.

Great leaders know that they have to be careful about how they react to an idea. If someone pitches an idea in a meeting and the leader says, “That’s a good idea,” it can be interpreted as a rousing endorsement. People will assume it’s approved and off they go.

As Stephen R. Covey wrote, “Leaders beware! Every time you open your mouth, you create culture.”

Ugly Truth #4. Once you pick an idea, the real work starts. Engage your people in a disciplined process.

The father of Total Quality Management, Edwards Demming, taught us that no one knows more about a given task then the person who works closest to the work. Forget about involving people solely for buy-in – that’s only 1/3 of the equation. Engage them for buy-in, ownership, and a better solution.

Have a process for ensuring that the goal stays on track, people are held accountable, you remain engaged, and wins are celebrated. Your reputation and your people will thank you.

What do these ideas mean to you? Well, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. What goals, initiatives, and projects do you have underway that should never have taken off in the first place?
  2. What process do you use to evaluate and select ideas? Is the process serving you, your team, and your organization well?
  3. Of the four items I wrote about in this post, which one(s) has tripped you up in the past?
  4. What should you do today to improve your idea selection process?

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