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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

You Are Not Your Ideas

Leaders love ideas. One of the things I most enjoy about leaders is they are never short on ideas. They always seem to have more and more coming. The more ideas they give, the more they seem to have. This is the give-get principle in action. The more ideas you give, the more you seem to get. Another thing that can plague leaders concerning ideas is they fall in love with some of them. They literally treat the idea as an extension of themselves like an arm or a leg, and if that idea were to be rejected, it's almost as if you are about to cut off that appendage. One of the things that really complicate this situation is if the ideas actually work for a while. Progress can be seen short-term. This makes everyone feel good, especially the leader. Unfortunately, this may not be the case long-term. You may be getting juice short-term, but not over the long haul. This may satisfy everyone short-term but does not provide long-term innovation to ensure the company stays relevant.

Easy low-value ideas move ahead in organizations for that reason. They are easy and produce short-term results. Larger companies are more vulnerable to this because employees gravitate to bigger companies because they are generally risk-averse. They are not entrepreneurs and larger firms offer more stability. The employees are there because they have chosen to not take undue risk with their careers. Much of the work in those companies require that mindset, but definitely not all. This is why it is hard to foster change in some respects due to fear of instability. In bigger companies, employees have more of a protector mindset. At times, it becomes the leader's mentality to push harder on the idea rather than change the mindset of the people who need to buy into it. The leader pushes for action and the employees push for stability rather than risk.

Remember this: You are not your ideas. Why do people get upset when their ideas are rejected? Because they have adopted the idea so fully, the idea is now attached to them. If the idea is rejected, then they feel as though they themselves have been rejected. Know this: There comes a time to evaluate the idea without bias. There also comes a time to evaluate your approach to the idea in regard to implementation. Is it still a good, valid idea? Why are people not buying in as you do? As a leader, sometimes we need a better process to develop big ideas. We also need a better process to sell those ideas to our teams. A better process would empower and energize people who are doing a great job in other areas of the company to also do a stellar job in regard to implementing different and innovative ideas which can be beneficial over the longer term. If you are in a company where smaller ideas are accepted and implemented but bigger and different ideas are discouraged, you need to spend some time considering your process. You may have a dominant protector mindset that you need to be aware of and understand or you may end up pushing your ideas too long without any progress or execution.

Think about the ideas you have had and pushed that seemed to get no buy-in or support. Are they bad ideas? Does your team see those ideas as dangerous to the company which engages their protector mindset? Could it be because you didn't evaluate the idea properly ahead of time? Could it be you did a poor job of explaining your idea and the value it could produce?

Consider this: rather than push harder on your ideas, how can you change the mindset of others by vetting and presenting your idea more fully?

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