Leading Up: Getting Your Idea Through

by Chip Lutz, CSP
Leading Up

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When you’ve put your heart and soul into an initiative, you can’t help but feel some personal gratification when it comes to fruition (even if you don’t get the credit). Not getting credit!? What’s that about? When something is for the good of the team and/or the organization, it doesn’t make a difference where the credit goes, as long as the initiative gets done. What I’ve found in 25 years of working in and leading teams is that ideas have to be set free and enabled to take on a life of their own. Especially if you need others to get the job done. Bringing life to an idea is more about letting go than holding on. Here are the strategies I use to make this happen:

Give It Up

Much like a mother bird tosses her chick out of the nest when it’s ready, so must a good idea be tossed out to the team. I’ve had a lot of great ideas in my life, many of which I’ve held on to for far too long. I fed them too long, held them too long, and let them stay around too long. So long, in fact, that (as the idea grew) it grew too big for just one to manage.  No one knew how to handle it except for me  – resulting in its possible demise (due to it being too hard to handle or my hating it). Holding on too long stifles the overall growth, development, and progression of an idea. Giving an idea up gives it motion, momentum, and creativity – enabling it to move forward.

Talk It Up

If I have thrown an idea out of the nest and allowed it to take flight, I can’t just abandon it. It may sound a bit cliché’ or corny, but I must be the wing beneath its wings by talking it up at every opportunity. Even though I am proud, I can’t run around saying, “Did you see my chick? Isn’t she darling? Don’t you just love her?” Instead, I must support from all sides by gently monitoring where it goes and whispering to all how it is doing, what support it needs, and how others can help the flight. This can be a difficult task. When pride runs too deep, egos run too high, and the wind that gets blown is too fierce, the idea will plummet to the earth and die. A gentle breeze beneath the wings is all that is needed to keep it airborne. Surround it with support.

Prop It Up

Barriers can get in the way of any new idea. It could be a strong gust from another direction or a huge tree right in its path of flight. What can be done to remove those barriers? Some may be removed through support and problem solving, but some may take a little more savvy. It might require a compromise or to answer some hard questions. Think through the flight plan of this idea, prop it up, and provide as clear of a path as possible.

In a team, the life and flight of an idea might start with you. However, if you want to see it through, it’s important to remember to initiate, but not control. Give it up, talk it up, and prop it up. If it is a truly great idea, it will fly. If, instead, you take it upon yourself to bring an idea to fruition, you might end up with a 30-year-old idea eating you out of house and home. The choice is yours! I think you’ll find that many hands make for lighter work and greater results.


Chip Lutz, CSP is a leader who’s been there, done that and has the uniform to prove it!  He unplugs leaders from the status quo and plugs them in to people, profits, and productivity!  You can get more information on Chip and his programs at www.unconventionalleader.com.


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