I just returned from a very positive two-and-a-half day session designed to elicit feedback and generate new ideas. Here are some keys you can use to lead for peak performance:
1. Sharpen your razor before you shave.
If there aren’t some sparks flying your blade is going to remain dull. Purposefully invite people you know have differing opinions, personalities, and perspectives.
2. Location, location, location.
As much as is possible, get people away from the weight of their daily responsibilities. Trying to create and produce at the same time is like trying to bathe a cat. Schedule time to socialize informally. We all love to eat.
3. Begin with the end.
Manage expectations. Clearly define the purpose and result. Set the ground rules, even when there are none. And remind people that not every idea can be used, but all are welcome.
4. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
Start by asking, “What are we doing well?” The answers are the easiest, create a healthy vibe, and set the positive stage for being able to really listen to the negs. Then buck-up and assume the position.
5. Laughter is the best medicine.
You’ll know you’re building a closely-knit team when heavy discussions are seasoned with chuckles and the occasional belly laugh. Friends who share mirth aren’t disagreeable—even when they disagree. There will be a wit or two in the group—let them go even if they’re sometimes dim. (I think that describes me.)
6. Major in the majors.
You’ll get way more input than you can use. If you get one or two big takeaways that can be implemented you have a grand slam.
7. Celebrate success so you can rinse and repeat.
It is important to thank everyone, but the effect is nothing compared to putting an idea to work. Publicize the effort, connect the dots, and set the stage for future success.
Outstanding leaders seek and use feedback.