The real power brokers who make ideas happen

Published: 4:01 AM, July 24, 2013
Updated: 7:20 PM, July 24, 2013
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Have you ever shared an idea with a colleague only to have it shot down? If that happens over and over again, I can guarantee you, you will stop sharing your ideas. Yet, ideas are the fuel of innovation. Without ideas, particularly novel ones, innovation will not even get off the ground.

So, what makes us share our ideas with some people and not others? Maybe the person is open-minded and curious, maybe they are great at building on our ideas to make them better, maybe they are influential and willing to support us.

It could be a lot of things, but fundamental to this relationship — particularly at the early stages of innovation when ideas are often raw and undefined — is trust.

We can often think of trust as a bit of a soft and woolly word, yet it is one of the most powerful motivators of human behaviour. You know when you have it, you know when you do not and it is awfully difficult to repair once it has been broken. So, how do we cultivate and manage it in our organisations?

Trust flows through social networks, and I am not necessarily talking about Facebook or LinkedIn. I am talking about the human, social connections we have in the workplace in order to get things done.

Think about the types of activities you engage in at work and who helps you do your job. Some, like getting decisions made or asking for clarity on goals, might involve certain people; other activities, such as talking about your career or catching up on the latest workplace gossip, might involve others. Trust, to one degree or another, will be involved in the choice you make.


Getting things done, namely “the work”, doesn’t necessarily flow through neatly designed organisational charts. It randomly and spontaneously flows through “connectors”: People talking, listening, supporting and challenging each other in different layers of the organisation. Often not visible to hierarchy, these people are the real power brokers.

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