Don’t be an ‘idea killer’

Some of our best ideas come when we’re taking a break from concentration. At least, that’s what recent research says. Since the concept for this column coalesced while I was sweating my way through a Zumba class, I’m prepared to believe it.

I’d been doing a lot of reading about the cultivation of ideas — especially the leader’s role in brainstorming, creativity and innovation. I collected insights and advice from all sorts of experts to use in my teaching. I wanted to craft a column, too, but kept debating with myself about the framing.

Not surprisingly, my breakthrough came when I stopped fretting and shifted my focus to enjoying some music and keeping pace with the class leader.

Then, mid-merengue, I flashed on a memory from my newsroom. It was the term “story killer.” It was our description for a naysayer at planning meetings (“We covered that before.” “That’s so boring.”) or a journalist who gave up too soon when checking out a tip. We weren’t fond of story killers.

The next thought came easily. The broader leadership equivalent would be an idea killer, wouldn’t it? An idea killer may be a boss who actively shoots down proposals, or passively lets them languish. It may be a manager who doesn’t know what it takes to build a culture of effective brainstorming, networking and innovation.

So that’s how I danced my way into crafting this list. It’s for leaders who never want to be known as idea killers.

(This is an excerpt from Jill Geisler’s post on May 15, 2013. To read the full article go to


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