Encouraging more collaborative and innovative thinking is imperative in leadership.

How to lead an open discussion


A lot of good can come from lively debate. In the workplace, it will likely lead to new and exciting ways of problem solving. Subsequently, a leader who can facilitate a small team – or even the entire enterprise – into thinking a little differently must truly be a master of their craft.

It can be much easier said than done though. With this in mind, here are the things to consider when trying to facilitate meetings and workshops with an eye on encouraging creative thinking:

Offer structure

When a group comes together, it’s only natural that there will be some overlap and – if the debate is particularly lively – all of the involved parties will talk over each other at some point.

Negating this is crucial and is done by introducing structure. This can either be achieved by giving everyone their turn to have a say or breaking up a big group into smaller entities and letting them report back on their findings.

This will help you avoid any muddling of ideas and allow you to find the root cause of any issues more quickly.

Be inclusive

Many people are intimidated by group discussions. Being aware of this fact and getting even the meekest of participants involved is important. After all, the most productive solutions will only be unlocked when each individual member of the team gets their say, and contributes to the final outcome of any discussion.

Choose space carefully

If you’re in charge of hosting the discussion, choose a setting which is informal. While this won’t be appropriate in a high-level corporate meeting, it can be incredibly beneficial to leaders looking to get the best ideas from their teams.

Space away from the ordinary office desk and chair – whether it be inside the confines of the building or not – will allow participants that little bit of a break from the norm, potentially unlocking lateral thinking that would not have been possible otherwise.

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