In EntreLeadership, I teach a section about the need to ask questions. Here’s the thing: Way too often, leaders jump to conclusions. Something goes wrong, or not the way you wanted it to, and the next thing you know, you’re ripping somebody’s head off.
When you’re done, the head that is still on the floor gives you something important – information you didn’t have. Information that now makes you look like an idiot! When you don’t take the time to ask simple questions, you end up cutting off any possibility for discussion. And believe it or not, that’s where the information lives.
You have to slow down for a second and find out what’s really going on. Whether something has gone wrong and you need to know what happened, or someone has come to you with information about another person. This one grates my last nerve, because I see it all the time. Someone has an agenda, and the leader doesn’t take the time to actually talk to the person to find out what’s really going on.
Here are a few things you can do to improve your leadership and not look like an idiot:
- Gather as much information as you can! Ask as many questions as possible to find out what happened. Nobody loses respect for a leader who does this. If you are digging to solve a problem, your team will think even more highly of you!
- If you are receiving information from one person about another, call the other person in! There is no reason to make a judgment call on partial information. Besides, you’re only hearing one side of the story. I have watched leaders take information from someone they like about someone they don’t like, only to find out it’s wrong. Talk to all parties involved.
- Allow those involved to give feedback. Always give them the opportunity to fill in any of the gaps that you might be missing. Ask the questions, “Is there anything I don’t know about?” and “Is there anything you would like to tell me about this?”
As you open up these lines of communication, you’ll find that what seemed like one thing might be totally different. On top of that, your team will see that you care about what’s right, not just lopping off heads.
What are some ways that you’ve seen this happen? What solutions do you have to fix it?