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Karin And David’s Leadership Articles

How You Respond Sends a Powerful Message

You don’t just want ideas from your team. You want ideas you can use. And let’s be real—sometimes the ideas are so wacky, you might even be fighting back a sarcastic chuckle. Here’s a proven, human-centered “how to respond” technique that recognizes the effort while providing information to help them contribute more relevant ideas in the future.

How to Train Your Team to Bring You Better IdeasCourageous Cultures

In almost every Courageous Cultures leadership development program we do we get this question.

“Karin and David, I think these tools are great, but my problem isn’t that I don’t get ideas from my team. I get too many of them. And I’ve got to tell you, some of them are pretty wacky. There’s no way I can use them. How do I respond to them without shutting them down, or wasting a lot of time?”

If you haven’t already done this – download our I.D.E.A. Incubator Guide. It’s your free guide to a power-packed team innovation session that will mobilize courage and increase team engagement.

Respond with Gratitude, Information, and an Invitation

First, you get more of what you and encourage and celebrate and less of what you ignore. Even if this idea is half-baked or wacky, the next one might be a game-changer. How you respond matters.


Start with gratitude and thanking them for their contribution.

“Thanks so much for spending time thinking about this.”

Or, “I can tell you really care about this project, thank you for thinking about how to make it better.”

Or, simply. “Thank you!”


Now if the idea is wacky, this next “how to respond” step is critical. Because you want the next ideas they bring you to be more on target.

One of the biggest reasons for bad ideas is that employees don’t have enough clarity or strategic context to offer a relevant idea (see also, 7 strategic questions your team should be able to answer).

If an idea is off base you can provide information about why.

For example:

“That idea would be really interesting if we were planning to expand our leadership training programs to include training llamas. But for now, we are focused on training humans on human-centered leadership.”

Or, “That idea would be really interesting if we had five million dollars. In this case, we’ve got five hundred.”

An Invitation

Knowing this information, I’d love to hear what ideas you have.

When you respond to ideas using gratitude, information, and an invitation, you teach critical thinking and problem solving, promote psychological safety and improve the chances of a better idea in the future.

Respond with Regard: a Tool You Can Use

innovation cycle how to respond to ideas
You can download this tool for free here.

How Do I Respond to An Idea (Even if I Can’t Use It?)

#Asking For a Friend

how to respond to innovation, ideas and strategic thinking

You may also enjoy this feature (and interview with Karin Hurt) in CIO Magazine, 5 Myths of IT Culture Change (on pages 23-27).

Your turn.

What are your favorite “How to Respond” Techniques?

Want more tools and ideas like this to build a Courageous Culture? First, download your free copy of the Let’s Grow Leaders I.D.E.A. Incubator Guide. Then check out our Strategic Leadership and Team Innovation page for leadership development opportunities to help you build a Courageous Culture at your company. 

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Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

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Karin Hurt and David Dye

Karin Hurt and David Dye help human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results. As CEO and President of Let’s Grow Leaders, they are known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. Karin and David are the award-winning authors of five books including, Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. David Dye is a former executive and elected official. Karin and David are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

Be More Daring


Get the FREE Courageous Cultures E-Book to learn how

7 Practical Ways to be a Bit More Daring

Be More Daring


Get the FREE Courageous Cultures E-Book to learn how

7 Practical Ways to be a Bit More Daring

Leadership Training Programs