Insight can inspire new ideas, but without guidance from business leaders those ideas are unlikely to be successfully executed, writes Elizabeth Doty for Strategy+Business.
Insight can be found in all sorts of places, from talks by industry experts to brainstorming sessions with your team, but even if you inspire your employees and provide a clear vision for implementing a new idea, there is no guarantee they will succeed in doing so to your satisfaction.
Don’t blame your employees. Blame the human brain. In The Neuroscience of Leadership, also published in Strategy+Business, management coach David Rock and research psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz explain that it takes time and repetition for an insight to make new connections and become embedded in the human brain.
“Over time, paying enough attention to any specific brain connection keeps the relevant circuitry open and dynamically alive,” they write. “These circuits can then eventually become not just chemical links but stable, physical changes in the brain’s structure.”
DIRECT YOUR TEAM’S FOCUS AND ATTENTION
Your employees have a lot to think about, so rather than hound and admonish them for not implementing your vision, you must be the “architect of your team’s focus and attention”.
Here are four tips for fulfilling that role:
1) Get to work straight away. When the talk or brainstorming session ends, don’t let your employees walk away and forget about it. Take the time to discuss “aha moments”, encourage all team members to share their biggest insight and agree on next steps. Make sure somebody documents everything.
2) Lead by example. If you want your team to focus, you must focus. Develop a routine for directing your attention to what matters. Your might find books such as David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity helpful.
3) Ask questions. Take every opportunity to ask members of your team questions to check their progress and encourage them to refocus and think more deeply about the “big idea”.
4) Stick to deadlines. If you don’t pay attention to upcoming or missed deadlines, your employees will think the work is not important. In the run up to a deadline, ask your employees about their progress and any challenges they might be facing. The aim is not to micromanage but to let your employees know you care and are willing to offer assistance. When an employee hits a deadline, thank them.
EFFORT AND REWARD
It might take up some of your valuable time, but if you put in the effort to ensure your employees are focused on making your vision a reality and offer encouragement and help when needed, they are more likely to succeed.