Why Great Leaders Nurture the “Idea Seed”

plant coming out of book

If you’re a business or sales team leader, you might think that the burden of decision-making – right decision-making – must fall squarely on your shoulders. After all, as the leader, aren’t you expected to singularly chart the right course and then, by force of your iron will, get your team members to heed your vision? With expectations like these, you might think it best to behave like a general, to unilaterally determine a master business and sales strategy, and then dole out tactical assignments to your subordinates. Some leaders operate this way, of course, but at what cost? Employee motivation? Team loyalty? Personal pride and accomplishment? Long-term success? Consider instead what might happen if you led with a different strategy, the strategy of a farmer planting “idea seeds”.

Great leaders teach and develop their team members to become self-sufficient, business-savvy thinkers. They know that team members are more likely to work hard to make a business idea succeed when they have some degree of ownership in that idea. Great leaders, therefore, find ways to help team members “self-discover” the right approach by 1) providing essential contextual information, and 2) asking key questions. Planting the seed of the best solution, and letting the team member figure out and articulate the answer allows the solution to sink in with greater effect. The result? A bumper crop of powerful business benefits:

Stronger motivation. When leading, training or coaching, if you merely impose your idea on team members instead of letting them self-discover, their attachment to the idea is tenuous at best. Instead of an objective being their goal, it is nothing more than a burden, more tasks on their “to do” list. A planted, nurtured and cultivated idea seed, however, bears the fruit of team member “buy in” and stronger motivation to succeed.

More accountability. If a team member is, directly or indirectly, the originator of an idea, they are inherently accountable for it. Empowering the employee to get credit for the success of an idea also makes them accountable if the idea doesn’t succeed.

A stronger sense of pride and accomplishment. When a team member self-discovers a great idea, congratulate him or her for this insight. “Ah-ha moments” can be great sources of personal pride and a feeling of accomplishment.

A stronger, more committed team. By empowering your people – individually and as a team – to solve their own problems through self-discovery of a planted idea, they will be more committed to seeing the idea through to a successful conclusion. What’s more, when team members feel needed and respected, they are more likely to remain loyal to the company.

More energy for big-picture leadership. As a leader, when you motivate people to self-discover great solutions, you equip them with essential problem-solving skills that will pay future success dividends. Better yet, by teaching team members to fish (as opposed to merely feeding them the answers), you increasingly preserve your time and energy for big-picture leadership challenges.

Here’s the bottom line: By planting idea seeds within your team members, they become more engaged, motivated, competent and committed. The ultimate harvest, of course, is team and business success. Isn’t that worth nurturing?

To learn more about how you can lead by planting, nurturing and cultivating ideas in your business or sales organization, contact a Sales Xceleration Advisor today.