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How to Effectively Lead a Team When Everyone Has Different Ideas

The 4 ways leaders can foster innovation and feel more comfortable in teams with diverse thoughts and ideas.

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In our globalized, rapidly evolving tech-driven work environment, new challenges spring up on what seems like a daily basis.  Gone are the days where a leader can personally know all there is to know to not only keep pace, but to also be innovative in such an environment. So, what’s to be done?  One of the best ways for leaders to tackle these complex challenges and craft world-class solutions is to assemble diverse teams who can assess, analyze and execute from distinct points of view. 

That being said, under the heading “Be careful what you ask for, you may just get it”, leaders who are successful at building diverse teams are then faced with the challenge of helping these teams effectively collaborate when everyone has different ideas, and most likely different work styles. How can leaders unlock their team’s best performance by getting them to join forces and overcome change resistance? 

The key is being clear on Where you are going (Vision), Why it’s important to get there (Mission), and How you expect the team to engage (Culture). These 3 pillars provide a team with a strong but nimble framework that fosters connections and creates a safe space where everyone feels comfortable communicating and exchanging ideas.  Different ideas elevate teams beyond current knowns and thinking boundaries, and as a leader, it is your job to foster brainstorming, focus ideation towards desired outcomes and finalize the execution roadmap to bring innovation to fruition.

Create a Vision of the Future Together

The hallmark of great leadership is finding ways to influence and energize your team. It’s not telling them what to do; it’s asking them to design the future they want to live in. This approach opens the door for creative thinking and meaningful contribution.

The bottom line: when your employees feel respected and valued, they will be more present and engaged. Create a collective vision of the future – one that not only motivates and empowers your team but also fuels change in your industry.

Encourage Employees to Take Risks and Experiment

Taking risks in your thinking is an integral part of the creative process. When there is a wide range of perspectives in the room, it’s important to be supportive of all suggestions. 

Making mistakes is inevitable and not all ideas will be brilliant – it’s making your team feel comfortable enough to brainstorm and share their opinions that matters more. You may say something that sparks another train of thought, which leads to a new line of thinking and ultimately, an innovative solution to the problem you’ve been trying to solve.

Drive Reflective Conversation

The most impactful leaders know how to spark curiosity and promote engagement within their team. They are highly skilled communicators, using the right language and asking the right questions to facilitate thought diversity and innovation.

Great questions are open-ended, authentic and relevant.

Open-ended

Does your question leave room for numerous responses? Does it welcome new viewpoints and follow-up questions? 

Authentic 

Take a moment to reflect on any underlying assumptions you may be holding. If your team feels your motive isn’t sincere, it will prevent an authentic and productive conversation. 

According to research, teams will go the extra mile when they believe their leader is trustworthy.

Relevant 

What goal are you trying to accomplish by asking this question? Does it solve the real problems my team and business are facing?

Be a Learner, Not the Expert

In today’s digital age, new trends appear as fast as others fade. As a leader, your success is closely tied to how well you can learn and adapt. Successful leaders are curious leaders. They have an enthusiasm for learning and understand that embracing the unknown is where innovation is born. 

“Leaders who are in learning mode develop stronger leadership skills than their peers,” The Harvard Business Review reports. They “conduct fearless after-action reviews, determined to glean useful insights from the results of their experimentation. Candidly reflecting on what went well, what did not go so well, and what might work better in the future are essential though often neglected initiatives for learning from experience and discerning what to focus on learning next.”

The foundation of strong leadership is being both humble and visible. It’s listening to the opinions of others and inviting open and honest feedback. Demonstrate that you are open-minded and want your ideas to be challenged. 

For more resources on how to harness your team’s potential, grab my free list of harmful energy types that undermine teams.

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