How to lead others in implementing your ideas

Dear Joan:

One area I have been struggling with since the beginning of my career is sharing ideas and getting the right level of recognition. Too many times I share an idea with my manager and the input is very positive. I am requested to share with the rest of my peers and they provide some level of feedback but it isn’t supported by my manager to help drive a decision. Therefore, the concept dies and doesn’t go anywhere. Then later I start to see that the concept is being driven in a different manner by others who end up getting the credit.

 

At times I’m okay with this, knowing that the right thing is being executed. However, I would like for my manger to say this is a great concept and here is how I will support it, especially if it is received well by the team. Then I will know how I helped inspire the future changes.

 

Am I being too picky or self-serving?

 

How do I turn it around so that I at least get more visibility and recognition on my leadership talent and creativity, rather than credit for the “idea” itself? I appreciate your input.

 

Answer:

Your enthusiasm and creativity are going to carry you a long way. Most managers yearn for someone who will take the initiative to find better ways of doing things. But it can be discouraging if you don’t see any direct benefit. Here are some steps to take.

 

Talk to your manager about your desire to get more visibility (that’s corporate speak for “more recognition”). Also tell her that you would like to work on your leadership skills. Probe to see if she has any feedback about the quality of your ideas or the way in which you deliver them. For example, does she see you as creative but not practical? Does she think you have good ideas but don’t have the political savvy to carry them out? Does she think you are lacking in project management skills?

 

Tell her that you have noticed that after you throw out an idea, it tends to go nowhere or get picked up by someone else. If she has feedback, listen carefully and ask for her advice. Explain that you would like to have the satisfaction of leading some of your ideas to completion (or at least getting some credit for them). If you have some unspoken career goals, let her know what those are.

 

I would not complain to her that she does not support your ideas. That will only create defensiveness and take the focus away from the outcome you want. Instead, see if she recognizes on her own that she hasn’t done very much to help you in this area. Chances are, now that you have brought the subject up, she will be more alert the next time you have a good idea.

 

Here are some other things you can work on the next time you bring up an idea to your team:

 

·        Describe your idea in some detail, so people recognize that it is yours. If you simply throw an idea out and then sit back, it will get picked up and embellished and someone else will run with the ball. Research shows that people who talk longer and elaborate on their idea are less likely to have their ideas intercepted by others. (Read Deborah Tannen’s book, Talking from 9 to 5, William Morrow & Company, Inc., NY)

 

·        Ask the group, “What do see as the pros and cons for this idea?” In other words you are taking a facilitator’s role in getting the group to think it through together. Even though they will be participating, you will be leading the conversation, so you will be seen as the “owner” of the idea. In addition, if they think it won’t work for some reason, you will be able to modify your own idea, rather than let someone else make the change and take the credit.

 

·        Ask the group and your manager directly for support on the idea. Say, “I’d like to do this. Can I count on the rest of you to help me?” Then facilitate an action plan discussion. Even if they participate in doing the action plan, you will still be seen as the orchestrating the implementation.  Or, say, “I’m going to research this. Any suggestions on things I can check out to see if this will fly?”

 

In the end, you will have to give up some ideas to other people. If you try too hard to be recognized you will look insecure and overly ambitious. You can feel successful knowing many of your ideas have taken flight even if you aren’t the one in the center of the spotlight. If you move into a leadership position, your ability to share credit with others will pay back big dividends.


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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