Leaders Say They Want Nonconformist Employees. They Sure Don’t Act Like It.

A few simple strategies can ensure that your employees know their voices are valued

Ask most corporate leaders what kind of employees they want, and the answers will be nearly uniform: They crave creative workers who think outside the box, who speak truth to power, and who are always looking for better ways to get the job done.

That’s what they say, anyway. What they do, however, tells a whole different story

.. perhaps the most basic strategy is for executives to wear their nonconformity on their sleeve, and encourage others to follow their lead. For starters, they should act in ways that seem to defy common expectations for the role they have.

.. Similarly, in brainstorming meetings, a leader might say, “This may be a crazy idea” as a way to invite other people to share their own “crazy” ideas, without fear of judgment. In meetings where a leader is the only voice on an issue, he or she might highlight it explicitly by saying, “It’s a bit lonely dangling on this branch alone, but I feel strongly about this issue.” This way, leaders make it clear they know they’re taking a risk, and are willing to stand out, giving others permission to do the same.