Good leaders get things done. Great leaders build organizations that get things done.\n\nAs a leader, being thought of as a source of the great ideas that help get things done is a three-fold liability, especially when you\u2019re working with executive peers outside of IT.\n\nThe first fold is that if a brilliant idea has your name on it, your peers will have to acknowledge how smart you are in order to support it. That might be good for your ego. But to them it might feel like they\u2019re acknowledging that you\u2019re smarter than they are.\n\nNot a good feeling, and you\u2019d be responsible for their feeling it.\n\nThe second fold is that if you\u2019re the one who has the brilliant ideas, it signals that IT can\u2019t function effectively without you to supply the ideas that make it work.\n\nThat might sound like just the ticket for you and your career. But what it\u2019s actually the ticket to is career stasis, because it signals that you aren\u2019t building an organization that gets things done, not to mention that you\u2019re fostering the risk that you might win the lottery.\n\nOne more fold: If you spend too much time touting your own brilliance, you\u2019re encouraging a perception that you don\u2019t spend enough time discovering good (and applicable) ideas other people have had.\n\nThe career-limiting success of brilliant ideas\n\nHaving brilliant ideas is a staff function when it isn\u2019t the role of outside consultants or authors you can (ahem) find on Amazon.\n\nPutting \u201cideas\u201d in context, we human beings practice five levels of cognition:\n\nA brilliant idea \u2014 or, for that matter, any idea \u2014 counts as knowledge. And knowledge is, to use the technical term, a Good Thing.\n\nBut as an executive you aren\u2019t being paid for your knowledge. That\u2019s a staff-level responsibility, and you should encourage it among IT staff. You, however, are being paid for good judgment and wisdom. So, having your own brilliant ideas puts you, paradoxically enough, in a subordinate role with respect to your organizational peers.\n\nIt isn\u2019t that you aren\u2019t supposed to be smart. It\u2019s that your intelligence is supposed to be about recognizing, championing, and promoting \u2014 in a word, brokering \u2014 the great ideas that surround you. As an idea broker you apply your judgment and wisdom to the ideas you\u2019re surrounded by, to figure out which ones might matter most.\n\nWanting everyone to think you\u2019re the smartest person in the room is, that is, a career-limiting attitude.\n\nFostering a culture of innovation\n\nTo be clear, this guideline is about you, not about the organization you lead. Wanting the rest of the company to view your organization as a source of great ideas and solutions is an entirely different matter and something to be prized.\n\nBut leading an IT organization so it becomes a source of great ideas and solutions is harder than it might seem, for several reasons.\n\nFirst and foremost, you probably haven\u2019t built \u201cidentifies and champions important and innovative opportunities\u201d into everyone\u2019s job descriptions. Not that employees pay all that much attention to their job descriptions, but still, if it\u2019s something you want it\u2019s probably something you should ask for.\n\nSecond, your IT managers and supervisors probably don\u2019t encourage having brilliant and innovative thoughts in their day-to-day staff management. And who can blame them? They have day-to-day operational responsibilities already. Adding innovation support is, in their minds, likely to be more distraction than opportunity.\n\nAnd third, you probably don\u2019t have an innovation budget to support any great ideas that do make it into your inbox. No budget means the only ideas that might succeed are those that are free. And those that are free are likely to be viewed with suspicion by your cybersecurity team.\n\nWhat can you do so you have a continuous supply of ideas worth brokering?\n\nHere are two low-cost steps you can take to get things rolling: (1) require every IT staff member to spend one hour a week researching and reading. Having everyone take time to find out What\u2019s Going On Out There can only help.\n\nAnd, (2) think of innovation in the context of culture change. Culture is, loosely defined, \u201chow we do things around here,\u201d and making it clear that innovating is part of how we do things around here is the single best tool you have to institutionalize it.\n\nSuccessful change always starts with culture change. That\u2019s an idea that\u2019s definitely worth brokering.