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It’s not always easy to get everyone on the team to contribute good ideas. Managers and leaders need to learn how to draw those ideas out. Empowering members to express their views can help leaders nurture talented individuals instead of compelling them to seek employment elsewhere.

Ask the Right Questions

Team leaders can provide criteria that distinguish mediocre ideas from innovative ones. For example, instead of asking employees how their department can increase sales, it might be helpful to ask how they can increase sales by 15 percent in the next quarter. Maybe the question could use some clarity. Instead of asking, “How can we cut costs this quarter?” someone might try, “Over the next quarter, where can we decrease costs in our operations budget and not have to cut staff positions?”

Stop Hogging All the Limelight

The success of the team belongs to all the members, not just the leader. Effective leaders typically find ways to give others ownership of the group’s achievements, and yes, even the mistakes. When team members feel a sense of ownership, they’ll invest more in work and share more ideas in the future.

Use the IDEA Framework

The IDEA Framework is a creative set of tactics to make ideas more specific, actionable, and impactful.

  • I—Interesting: What makes the idea interesting? How does it solve the problem at hand?
  • D—Doable: Can the group put the idea into action? What specific steps are necessary, and how much will they cost?
  • E—Engaging: Who should take on the actions to make the solution happen? Which internal and external partners might the group enlist for help?
  • A—Actions: Are there some actions that are more urgent than others? On what timetable should the group implement the steps, and how long should they take?

Reward the Stealing

MIT scholar Michael Schrage claims that managers can encourage members to steal an idea from another colleague and make it their own. Managers can show their support for this practice by giving credit to both the idea originator and the person who takes the idea and transforms it.