One of the most popular TV series we’ve seen in recent years is AMC’s “Walking Dead”. It’s a show about zombies (which incidentally doesn’t ever use the word “zombie”), and how those who’re still alive band together to survive.
If you’ve ever watched the show, then you know that people who try to survive on their own don’t do a very good job of it. In some cases, being alone makes them physically vulnerable to attacks from the undead. In other cases, being alone makes them mentally vulnerable to their poisonous thoughts.
Chances are, you probably wouldn’t try to survive the Zombie Apocalypse alone.
So let me ask you a question:
Are you trying to solve problems affecting your team by yourself?
As managers, it is common to believe that we should be expert at solving any problem coming our way. We are leaders, after all, right? So we must know better than our team members?
Sure, your employees are likely to look up to you for guidance and expertise, and you are certainly keen to share your knowledge, and demonstrate your savoir-faire.
However, before instructing your team as to how to fix a problem, think of the benefits of engaging them in problem resolution.
- May be surprised by the quality of the solutions proposed—something you may not be able to attain alone
- Foster a culture of teamwork and debate
- Inspire your employees to rely not only on you but also on their own abilities—which strengthens their accountability
- Demonstrate your appreciation for their intelligence and know-how—one of the best ways to motivate people
- Develop their ability to think strategically
- Reinforce commitment from your team, as they participate in the design of the solution
- Relieve yourself from being the hero of the team!
Getting your team involved is as easy as asking
… a few open-ended questions before you are tempted to give the solution, such as:
- What do you think is the issue? What else?
- What should be our objectives?
- How will we know if we are successful?
- What are our options?
- Whom should we get involved?
- What do we need to be successful?
- What should the action plan be?
- What are the risks?
The power of open-ended questions resides in the fact that it forces people to elaborate, to take the time to think about the problem and potential solutions.
Would this proposition make a difference in your leadership style and in the performance of your team if it is not already a common practice for you?
I bet it would.
Coming soon: The long awaited Practical guide of powerful questions