Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How to Listen to an Employee's Pitch

Adam Bryant interviewed Lisa Gersh recently for his New York Times Corner Office column.   Gersh explains an early leadership lesson she learned.  In short, she's talking about how the "yes, and" principle from improv comedy can be used to enhance the quality of team meetings.  

A mentor, Geraldine Laybourne, gave me a great lesson when I had my first child. She said the best way to control the “terrible 2s” and make your kids happy is to learn how to say “yes.” It doesn’t mean giving them everything they want; it means directing them to something else. The same thing is true in business. It’s about learning to say yes. People pitch ideas all the time, and I find that others in the room can often want to say no and talk about why it’s not a good idea. A bunch of really smart people can kill any idea. You can always find out what’s wrong with an idea, but you can’t necessarily find out what’s good with the idea. And so the first thing she said to me when we were starting Oxygen Media is to learn how to say yes. Listen to people’s ideas almost like an improv session, and play with the ideas. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to do the idea. It just means you’re going to listen to the idea and work on the idea.

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