What Do We Do When Something Goes Wrong? 

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If we want to forever be in charge of fixing the problems, then we should give lectures, orders, and consequences.

If we want others to take it on, then we should should call out the deviations from goals and coach people to solve the situations themselves.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: This is easy to forget. But we really don’t want to be in charge of all that stuff, ya?

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When We Can and Can’t Tell People What To Do

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There are only two times when we get to tell people what to do: in a true emergency or when they are not yet competent and confident in the task.

Every other time, we’re far better off (yes, even when we think we don’t have the time) to point out what’s new or how something is deviating from the desired goals and explore what they think they might do to address it.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: “I notice that the margin on this project is lower than normal. What might be some good next steps to correct it?” works far better than, “Call the vendor and get them to cut their price then tell the client we have to put through a change order!” One generates cooperation, the other generates resistance and waste.

 

Today’s photo credit: Mike Mills cc

Ask, Don’t Tell

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence, We=All Who Matter
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Tell me the answers, what I should do, what’s right, and you may get my grudging compliance. You certainly will be training me to distrust your motives and defend against your suggestions in the future.

But, dear leader, ask me what I think, help me explore options and my own motivation, then set aside your opinions and just plain old hear me, and you will spur me to inspired action, sustained success, and real loyalty.

Think about this the next time you catch yourself in the weeds, pushing, and wondering why they just don’t get it.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Véronique Debord-Lazaro cc

Question Me, Please

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What is the difference between, “Do this,” and “How should we get this done?”

Tell me something or tell/ask me to do something and I will likely resist. Ask me an open-ended question, and you’ve engaged me. This is true for all of us because we respond fundamentally differently when asked questions versus being given statements and commands.

To find the best ideas, create the most excitement and alignment, gain commitment, and see results, what could be better than asking relevant, open-ended questions?

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Question Mark via photopin (license)

Don’t Bother Making Your Case

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The best way to make our case is, oddly, not to make our case.

In leading, selling, and influencing, our first temptation is often to pitch. We want to explain to people what we want them to do or believe and why they should agree with us.

But we are all hard-wired to resist, defend, and counter such attempts, either actively or passively. So most of our telling and pitching will fail or at least slow things down.

Instead, let’s first hear them make their case. How do they see things? What’s working and what’s not? What would be great outcomes for them?

Once we’ve acknowledged and confirmed with them what we heard, they will be open to hearing our perspectives and to jointly creating solutions that work for us and them.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: thebarrowboy cc

Good Leaders Expose Rather Than Impose

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading, We=All Who Matter
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Here is the fundamental conflict in leadership. People universally resist being told what to do. We, as leaders (with or without titles), feel we are on the hook so we regularly tell people what to do.

We can try various tactics to disguise our “telling” and they will have many creative ways to resist. Regardless, as long as we are telling, we get nowhere significant.

To make real progress, seek to expose rather than impose. Expose your thinking and motivations. Expose what would make a win for you and the organization. Expose how what they do contributes. And use curious, kind inquiry to expose their ideas, motivations, what would be a win for them, how they see it working out, and what they imagine are their next steps.

Collaboration and completion usually ensue.

In your corner,

Mike

mega

Statements and Questions

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Thinking we have to be strong–or at least to look strong or to look like we know something–we make statements. We make our case. We argue.

And we forget the power of good question. To see this phenomenon at its most dysfunctional, observe most any politician.

Leaders (whether we have that title or not) use both statements and questions. Statements are great for naming the elephant in the room and for reminding each other of our mission, our SweetSpot. Questions are great for deepening understanding, fostering trust, and creating win-win.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

PS: Some really helpful questions include these: “What is true now?” “What do we want to be true in the future?” and “Why?”

 

Today’s photo credit: floeschie via photopin cc