Leaders reject pitches & proposals but not people

Not every idea you hear is worth pursuing. Not every proposal is worth pushing thru. But there’s a huge difference between rejected a bad idea and rejecting a person. And it’s important to distinguish between the two.

When we reject an idea, we should be able to articulate where it fails. We should be able to clearly define our decision criteria. And as a result, we can help people think better when coming up with plans.

In short, rejecting ideas, when done well, is helpful to everyone. It educates and encourages. It corrects and challenges.

But to do that means we have to explain our decision framework, our goals and objectives, and how a particular plan fails in various places. We have to create opportunities to hear a second or third iteration of an idea and support it as it gets good.

You’re thinking, no duh. It’s common sense. But if it’s so common why do we see the same thing happening in conference rooms everywhere – where the rejection isn’t accompanied by context and constructive feedback. Instead it’s just flat out rejection.

And that can feel depressing, humiliating and frustrating.

Everyone has good ideas and bad ones. The trick to having more good ideas is to make more ideas. Period.

And that means you need a culture that knows how to reject a plan or pitch without rejecting the person delivering it.