You’re sitting at your desk wondering why you’re the only one that comes up with new ideas.  Why don’t people speak up?  Where’s the drive to win in these people?  Why aren’t my people going after it like I am? You think of King Henry who said, “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”

Lack of initiative can be caused by various conditions, but one common cause is “organizational fear.” We’d define this as a corporate culture in which there is an unreasonably high level of risk associated with engaging fully. In other words, people are afraid to speak up because they get humiliated or punished when they’re wrong.

There are three ways that you, as a leader, can fight this toxic, creativity-killer in your organization:

  1. Say “thank you” for EVERY suggestion or new idea, no matter how bad you think it is. We can always follow the thank you with, “I’m going to chew on it,” or “I’m going to put some thought into that.” It only takes a couples times being shot down for many people to stop suggesting things altogether.
  2. Talk about your own mistakes. When we do this, we’re sending a message to others that it’s ok to make mistakes, and therefore, ok to take risks.
  3. Recognize failed projects as valuable learning experiences. People want to be part of something positive.If every project is perceived as positive in some way, they are more likely to jump on the team when new initiatives are launched.

These simple (but not easy) behaviors will let your people know that you’re all on the same team, and keep “organizational fear” at a distance.

Download Dale Carnegie’s latest white paper on “Recognizing Leadership Blind Spots.”

Posted by Ryan M. Akins

Investor, Entrepreneur, Listener and Learner. Ryan currently serves as Regional President of Dale Carnegie for the North Texas region. He graduated from The Dale Carnegie Course in 2011.

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