When a company stops coming up with new ideas, innovation is at risk. Many companies are failing because intellectual bravery is either diminished or gone altogether. What is it, and how can we make sure to create a culture that embodies it?
Timothy R. Clark knows a thing or two about this topic. He has a doctorate i social science from University of Oxford, and is the founder and CEO of LeaderFactor. He describes intellectual bravery as disagreeing, opposing or challenging the status quo in a social setting where you risk being embarassed, criticized or punished. You put yourself in what is called a social risk by being vulnerable.
It all depends on the leaderships´ability to establish rewarded vulnerability rather than its punishing forms, so that it can trickle down and through the entire organization. It´s essential to encourage people to speak up, and to clearly communicate that all input is welcome and beneficial. In addition to that, a few of Clark´s tips include:
- Assign dissent: Make some of your team members challenge or find flaws of your ideas and discussion points, so that you together as a group can reach the best solutions. Be sure to mix up the people in this role.
- Respond constructively to bad news and disruptive ideas: Show a positive emotional response by paying attention to body language and non-verbal cues. Underline that you are listening and that you are in the boat together.
- Weigh in last if your´re the boss: Acknowledge the contribution of others, and add your point of view after others with less senior positions have shared theirs.
Clark remarks that the healthiest workplaces share mistakes, ask exploratory questions and admit when they don´t know the answer. This establishes psychological safety, the very foundation of intellectual bravery in companies wanting to reach far.
Read his full Harvard Business Review article here