Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a group of leaders negotiating a series of physical obstacles. After each one, we conducted a quick “After Action Review” and then rotated leadership roles so that all participants had a chance to be the leader.
In one of the groups, the designated leader said, “Okay team, here is what I think,” and then proceeded to explain his proposed solution. Afterwards, he asked, “What do you all think?” The response: Insert cricket noise! Not a single word and certainly not anything to counter the “leader’s” suggested way ahead.
After rotating roles, a subsequent team lead began with, “Okay team, what do you think?” That’s right, before she said anything about her thoughts, she asked for input from the rest of her team. The result: All sorts of great ideas, one of which ended up being the way they ultimately decided to go.
How and when we ask others for input matters greatly. Those who go first with their own ideas must know that proposal, 99 times out of 100, will be the way. THE way. Asking others what they think, without “poisoning the well” with our own solutions, truly makes a difference. Listen, understand, probe with questions, debate. Then…maybe…give your ideas!