A First, A Dated Reference
I’ve never before opened a post with a biblical reference, until this…
– Saint Paul; 2 Corinthians, Chapter. 11
As with all theological scriptures, those three words can be subject to various interpretations. Rather than analyze St. Paul’s intentions of 2,000 years ago, let’s consider those three words in the context of leading others in today’s world.
Easier Said than Done
As leaders, we all encounter people with thoughts and ideas we’re inclined to label as foolish. It’s hard to imagine being glad about it.
How readily are you going to accept ideas from this guy? 2
Perhaps you have the authority to fire or relegate the fools in your midst. Or contrary to the urging of St. Paul, you want to get rid of those who spout seemly foolish ideas. Might this be another example of:
Just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD
Our tolerance for foolishness can and should have it’s limits. But at what point does a leader’s intolerance with perceived foolish ideas or ideas from diminished contributors threaten creativity and innovation?
Leadership Skill Requirement
Professional facilitators who lead brainstorming and ideation sessions are trained to establish critical ground rules:
- There are no bad ideas.
- Scrutinizing ideas when presented is strictly prohibited
Brainstorming works best in an atmosphere that allows one idea to build off another. When thoughts are instantly squashed, what happens to creativity? Without creativity, how is innovation possible? While there are no bad ideas, there will be ideas that we choose not to utilize. While they end up on the cutting room floor, they still bring value to the creative process.
Expanding Tolerance by Developing Empathy
Consider the Source
There’s at least one in every crowd. One who just doesn’t get it. Who is to blame? Might it be a failure in your communication process?
If you discover that one person doesn’t get it, might there be more? How many more? How might your intolerance or inability to suffer fools gladly be sabotaging innovation?
Revisiting "YES, AND..."
Here in Chicago, The Second City teaches conversational improvisation with the “Yes, and” approach. They teach an understanding that the words NO and BUT will shut down a productive discussion of ideas. The “Yes, and” approach keeps the conversation going. But to implement this as a leadership collaboration skill, you need to develop an attitude of empathy for those offering ideas.
Negative Judgement Shuts Down Creative Thinking and Problem Solving
New: The 10% Assumption
Suffering fools gladly requires us to build our empathy muscles. Empathy for for what we might consider foolish ideas and empathy those who share them. Everyone has their own unique frame of reference.
Here’s the hack for your belief system to enhance your tolerance.
Every person’s idea is at least 10% valid.
How can you find that 10% that you can agree with? Is there honorable attempt to contribute or solve?
With an open mind and enhanced empathy, you can improve the “Yes, and…” approach by adding:
Yes, and what I love about your idea is ___________1.
"A Check-Up from the Neck Up "
Is your existing belief system resisting these time tested concepts? Is it time to enhance your Positive Intelligence?
Credits and Attributions
- The 10% Right Concept from Positive Intelligence and author Shirzad Chamine’s PQ Operating System.
- Fool image courtesy of Creative Commons
- Check-Up from the Neck up is Zig Ziglar’s line.