As leaders we are in a constant struggle to help our directs learn and grow as individuals and professionals. Our success is dependent upon their success. And their success is dependent upon our leadership abilities. So in this cyclical dance, we are masters of our own destinies, but we cannot do it alone. We must help others in order to help ourselves.
There are myriad leadership theories, models, and suggestions in the business literature sector, and you can read them all if you have the time and/or inclination (btw, you don’t have the time). But one scheme will do more for you and your directs than any other. (It’s not what you think…it’s not the One-on-One meeting.)
This one idea will drive your directs to become better critical thinkers and more self-confident. This one idea will increase your capacity to focus on the bigger picture and get more done personally and departmentally. This one idea will build stronger teams, improve retention, and create a more sustainable organization overall.
This one idea is Promote a Thinking Culture.
- Allowing your people to think things through without telling them what to do
- Encouraging them to consider for themselves how they might approach a situation
- Asking questions that inspire rather than interrogate
- Listening more and talking less
- Aiming for solutions rather than harping on problems
- Looking ahead instead of dwelling on the past
The chart above displays alternative questions that put the focus on developing solutions. To get the most out of your people you need to help them build confidence in their own critical thinking skills and allow them to realize that they can form solutions without your constant input. Your goal in promoting a thinking culture should be to reduce their reliance on you for immediate answers and become a source of guidance, inspiration, and encouragement.