Brainstorming is easy for the leader and difficult for all other participants. Why is this?
Well, when one is asked to brainstorm with their leader or manager all biases show up.
The irony, from a leadership standpoint, is right when we need you to participate with no rules – you will put the most rules into play.
One way around this is to use the phrase “what if?”
Great leaders feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Yet, great followers don’t.
So, how do we make them safe?
Open with something like “what if I wasn’t the boss and you were – what would you do?”
This lets them know that you really do want their perspective.
What would they be doing if they were in your position?
Remember, they are not. You are still the boss. They know that, but you have to make it safe for them to speak freely.
Once you hear a unique perspective it is important to repeat it back to them. This signals to them that they were heard. Which is what everyone wants.
It also gives them an opportunity to clarify, if they feel misunderstood.
It also signals to them that they can help the other participants
So, what if you use what if – in your next brainstorming session.