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Ask More Than You Tell!

Dear Leader,

It's time to flip the switch! Do you know what they know, or do they just know what you know? I guess that depends on who's doing the talking. It is very easy to get into "tell" mode. As a matter of fact, many leaders' switch seems to have broken off there!

We have meetings and download information.

We have feedback sessions and download information.

We have brainstorming sessions and download information.

We try to help resolve an issue and...

Unfortunately, we don't give others an opportunity to think or share what they think. In effect, we interfere with problem-solving and self-reflection.

Why? Why do "they" do that (those other managers)? Why does the person reading this post right now do that? (Take a long pause to answer that before continuing; I'll wait.)

What did you come up with? Let me guess.

Because it's faster to tell.

Because some people are clueless.

Because who has time for them to figure out (see first answer).

Because I get a lot of "I don't know" and that is frustrating.

To that I say, "DO IT ANYWAY"! Flip the statement into a question. See what you get. Sit in the silence for 60 seconds before bailing the person out. Learn how he/she/they think and process situations. Ensure that they understand. Ask for a paraphrase. Otherwise, you're assuming you're on the same page. And has that ever NOT worked out for you?

The next time you debrief after a project, ASK what they liked, disliked, would do differently, etc. Then add your thoughts afterward. Before you tell what to do/try, ask. In this way you can calibrate and collaborate.

As a leader, you get to coach and develop and guide. People grow when they are more self-aware. Ask questions to help with that discovery and development process.

Happy listening! Happy leading!

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