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The More You Tell the Less You Lead

coaching leadership Oct 24, 2019

You only get answers to the questions you ask. Otherwise, doors remain locked forever. 

If you are in any leadership position, and breathing, odds are you will be solving a problem today.  Take the opportunity to not tell people what to do, instead, ask them questions.

Three things will happen.

1. They will feel more part of the team.

2. You'll get better long term results.

3. You will learn how your team approaches problems so you can identify the gaps in your leadership and communication. 

Here are a few questions you can ask:

  • What is the cause of this problem? (It’s critical to get to the root of the dysfunction)
  • How do we solve this problem? (There are no bad ideas when you are brainstorming)
  • What specific steps do we need to take to solve the problem? (Follow up with who is responsible for what?)
  • How will this action lead us to our goal? (If you cannot answer this question with clarity your problem will not be solved)

Questions are the most effective way to communicate with people. They cultivate humility (It’s okay to say, “I don’t know, but let’s find out together.” Or build buy-in by asking, “What do you think we should do?”

Next, questions give us a different perspective. Before you attempt to set things right, make sure you see things right. Most miscommunication is a result of people’s having different assumptions. You can correct assumptions and prevent miscommunication by asking questions like, “Help me understand why you chose to ….” or “I am curious to hear your thoughts. If you were in charge of this initiative, what would be your first three actions?”

Lastly, you will begin to recognize that you offer far more value thru asking questions, deep listening being insatiably curious more than you ever will when you just try to fix or do things for others. Your people are perfectly capable and will be far better served by thinking into whatever the problem is and then working through it themselves.

If you want to lead by yourself at 100 mph, go right ahead. You’ll go fast, but you won’t go very far. Here is to asking better questions, resulting in better leadership!

This blog was written by Dr. Thomas Miller, owner of Leaders Building Leaders, the fastest growing leadership company in North Carolina providing high quality leadership solutions for public charter school leaders. 

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