4 Reasons to Lead with Questions

Leader Asking Questions

Most organization and team cultures today focus on racing to identify actionable solutions. The most effective leaders, however, take time to ask questions that get people to share their thoughts and feelings en route to identifying actionable solutions.

Over the years I’ve come to believe that rushing to a solution is often unwise and that the journey is as valuable as the destination. Here are four reasons why.

After Knowledge Flow Sessions, Follow Up in Writing

Hand and Computer

#86 Follow Up in Writing

After a Group or Individual Knowledge Flow Session, follow up in writing to summarize what you heard, what actions are necessary, who is responsible for each action and when each action should be completed. Great communication shows people you value them and also encourages further sharing of information and ideas.

This is the eighty-sixth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

Connect With Your Team by Keeping Them “In the Loop”

Business Discussion

#76 Keep Them “In the Loop”

Keep your team in the loop on issues they need to know about. Whenever possible, bring individuals into the loop who express an interest in an issue. Doing so helps people to feel prepared for what’s ahead, which reduces stress and increases engagement.

This is the seventy-sixth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

Connect by Holding Individual Knowledge Flow Sessions

Business People Sharing Knowledge#46 Hold Individual Knowledge Flow Sessions

Begin by making a list of the people you must interact with in order to perform your work well. Similar to Group Knowledge Flow Sessions, in meeting with individuals, share your Vision for what relevant actions need to be taken in your work with them, who you see as responsible for each action, and when it needs to be completed; ask them to tell you “what’s right, what’s wrong and what’s missing” from your thinking; and consider their ideas and opinions to learn from them and show you value them.

This is the forty-sixth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

Seek Ideas and Opinions in Group Knowledge Flow Sessions

Man having an idea#45 Seek Ideas and Opinions in Group Knowledge Flow Sessions

When leading Knowledge Flow Sessions, share with participants that “I don’t have a monopoly on good ideas and we will be our best only when we all share our opinions and ideas.” Encourage dialogue by asking participants to tell you “what’s right, what’s wrong and what’s missing” from your thinking.

Everyone’s opinions and ideas should be considered so ask people who are quiet to share what they think.  Listen and consider the ideas put forth.  Implement good ideas and give credit where it’s due.  This practice reflects the character strengths of integrity, humility, curiosity and open-mindedness.

This is the forty-fifth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

Lead with Vision in Group Knowledge Flow Sessions

Businessman Showing Cards

Photo Credit: StockImages

#44 Lead with Vision in Group Knowledge Flow Sessions

A knowledge flow session is a meeting that allows leaders to both inform and listen to members of their teams. Begin by sharing your Vision, i.e. your thoughts about what actions need to be done, by whom, and when each action needs to be completed. We call this “putting your cards on the table.”

In the coming weeks, I will share more helpful tips for facilitating knowledge flow sessions.

This is the forty-fourth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

Connect by Holding Frequent Knowledge Flow Sessions

office meeting

#43 Hold Knowledge Flow Sessions Frequently

When new employees arrive they should participate in a Knowledge Flow Session on your organization’s history, mission, values and broad strategy.  Major initiatives and annual plans should be communicated in Knowledge Flow Sessions with the number of participants small enough for conversations to occur. Team Knowledge Flow Sessions should occur frequently to keep the team aligned and accountable (one organization we know calls their weekly operational Knowledge Flow Session the “Sweat the Details” meeting).  As plans change, consider holding Knowledge Flow Sessions to keep everyone in the loop.

This is the forty-third post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

 

3 Practices CEOs Can Learn from the Girl Scouts

Girl Scout Cookie BoxesIn most communities, January through April is the time of year when the girls in green are out in full force selling Girl Scout cookies. Can you imagine a world without Thin Mints®, Tagalongs® and Do-si-dos®?  Sadly, they were once at risk.

There was a time in the mid-1970s when the Girl Scouts were struggling and their future looked uncertain. Fortunately, Frances Hesselbein came to the rescue. Although she had no daughters, Mrs. Hesselbein had begun her association with the Girl Scouts when she agreed to help with a troop of 30 girls in Johnstown, Pennsylvania that had lost its leader. It wasn’t long before Hesselbein’s experience with Troop 17 developed into a lifelong commitment to Girl Scouting. In 1976 she became CEO of the national organization, Girl Scouts of the USA.

With membership falling, and the organization in a state of serious decline, Mrs. Hesselbein put sound management practices in place. During her twenty-four-year tenure, Girl Scout membership quadrupled to nearly three and a half million, diversity more than tripled, and the organization was transformed into what Peter Drucker described as “the best-managed organization around.” Hesselbein accomplished the amazing turnaround with a paid staff of 6,000 and 730,000 volunteers.

Here are three practices that helped Frances Hesselbein put the Girls Scouts on a track for success.

Listen Actively

Jane Dutton of the University of Michigan recommends four ways to listen actively.

First, paraphrase by expressing what you heard in your own words.  For example you might say, “Let me make sure I’m hearing you correctly.  You are saying that you need more financial resources to meet this month’s objectives.”

Second, summarize what you heard.  For example, you could say, “if I boil down your points I hear you saying that we have an opportunity to expand our business if we open stores in the Midwestern U.S. over the next year.”

Third, clarify by asking questions.  For example, you might say “correct me if I’m not hearing you right but I think you are saying …”

Finally, solicit feedback by asking how you are doing as a listener.  For example, you could say, “do you get the sense that I’m listening to you and hearing what you have to say.” (These practices reflect the connection culture elements of Value and Voice.)

This is the third post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others.  Although the attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.