Certainty and leadership do not coexist. Even when you have (or think you “should” have) the answer, it’s much more effective to challenge your people to solve their own problems. By asking questions, you are affirming and supporting the capabilities of your team. Answer their questions with your own questions, and don’t worry about displaying your uncertainty. You’ll find creative solutions and make the most of the talent you have on hand. In short, an inquisitive approach is smart leadership.
- What benefits and detriments do you see by being the one answering your people’s questions with questions of your own?
- When your people ask you questions, do you tend to feel beholden to them to “have the answers”? If so, what’s behind that? What would it take for you to experiment with alternative approaches?
- What would help you remind yourself to shift into inquiry when you are tempted to just provide an answer “for the sake of time,” or because you’ve “had to face the same problem, and know the answer”?
Based on client experiences / lessons learned, our weekly LeaderTips have been offering self-coaching themes and topics of interest to leaders since 2004. They are often published in BusinessWeek Online, sent weekly to our clients, and hundreds of other corporate leaders worldwide. I invite you to forward them to others, who are also welcome to subscribe using the link below. Note that over 100 of these tips appear in my book, Beyond Effective: Practices in Self-aware Leadership. Click here to subscribe to LeaderTips via email.