It was the turn of the century and the telephone was starting to become a household item. At the time, no one had telephone numbers, and the Bell Telephone operators actually memorized customer names in order to make telephone connections. All that changed in only a few weeks. In a small town in Massachusetts, the telephone operators became ill with a contagious infection (no one was ever quite sure exactly what it was). Replacements were found, but with one problem. They had not memorized the customers’ names and were unable to place telephone calls! One of the callers, a local doctor had an idea. Why not assign numbers to each of the local residents and have them permanently attached to the switchboard? Because of a contagious illness, the telephone number was born and quickly spread throughout the nations.
In the workplace today, many opportunities of necessity exist. Work overload, technology advances, and specialization of job functions create many opportunities for a work team to come up with new ideas to make their team more efficient and profitable. Unfortunately, many employees feel uncomfortable bringing new ideas to the table. This is where leadership comes into play.
Great leadership is the spearhead of new ideas, if leadership follows a few simple practices:
• Constantly encourage people to share new ideas.
• When they share ideas, never discount them. Always be thankful.
• Have brainstorming sessions with no limits! No idea is too crazy! If you get a crazy idea, it may lead you to a more useful one that can solve a problem.
• Reward people, not only for their great ideas, but for their effort as well.
• Ideas that are actually used should be rewarded with a gift or cash!
• Publicly recognize the person who created the idea. Peer recognition is a powerful motivating tool.
• Keep a running total of all ideas presented with the names of the creator. Quantity leads to more useful ideas!
Great leadership encourages and fosters people to go beyond their limits. This can only be accomplished in a safe and trusting work environment where ideas are honored and people are celebrated for their creativity and effort. There is no limit to the heights we can reach!