the three levels of input
A great tip one of our board members gave me a while back was that, as leadership and influence grows, it becomes increasingly import to make sure your team knows the type of input you’re giving them. Here’s how I explain it to the folks at Bugcrowd:
When I’m talking with you about the business, there are three different types of input I’ll give you — and it’s important you understand the difference:
Ideas. “We’re just shooting the breeze here”. Me sharing an idea with you — as an aside in a meeting, in passing in the office, or over a beer — is not the same as me asking you to do something… It’s ideation only.
Suggestions. “I’m telling you what I think you should do, but ultimately it’s your call”. The proof of this will be when I ask you how it was considered once the decision is made… But let’s be very clear, this is still your call.
Directives. “I’m CEO and I’m telling you to do a thing”. This won’t happen often — I tend to hire the kinds of people that don’t need it — but when it does I expect you to seek understanding then go and do it.
Most of the time incidental input I give will be the Ideas variety — I’m an inventor and ideator at heart so often it’s the simple enjoyment of exploration, but I also do it on purpose to seed thoughts and try to get the creative juices flowing just that little bit more.
For me, this simple framework has been most useful in making sure that people don’t confuse ideas with directives.