Not listening to good ideas from the team is a big mistake

If you’ve ever carried out the paperclip exercise, you will already know the power of collective ideas.  In this exercise, individuals are asked to write down as many uses for a paperclip as possible. It’s a great example of the benefits of listening to good ideas from the team. 

Typically, people can come up with anything between 5 to around 25 answers each in the space of 5 minutes.  Each person is asked then to write up their original ideas on 

Not Listening to Good Ideas From The Team

a flipchart.  If the idea is already on the flipchart, it is not added.  The result is several different and original ideas.

Last time I carried this out, the group came up with 84 original ideas.  Now some of the ideas were comical, but that does not particularly matter.  What the exercise demonstrated was the richness and breadth of ideas when many minds come together.

Leaders and managers who do not understand that everyone will bring something to the table are frankly missing out and blinkered.


Similarly, when proposing to introduce something new into the workplace, an absence of consultation with members of the team and allowing them to bring their thinking and ideas to the surface is a huge mistake.

Effective leaders and managers

Effective leaders and managers understand that truly listening to employees will bring a range of benefits in different situations, such as:

  • Triggering innovation – brainstorming or otherwise asking for their thoughts and suggestions
  • Seek first to understand.  An employee, who truly feels heard, feels valued.
  • Finding out what is going on at the front line
  • Unearthing potential problems, inefficiencies as well as best practice.

There are views and ideas they want to adopt and some they don’t. The trick to encouraging and maintaining a culture of healthy two- way communication is to retain a healthy respect for all feedback.

They are grateful for that which they act on and give an honest explanation for the rest as to why they chose not to act on.  In this way, they continue to get great ideas and practical help to get things done.

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

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