In the past we have been taught that we need to have all the answers. As leaders, we feel the need to be “in charge.” In order to do that, we have to know how everything works, the ins and outs of the job of each person who reports to us – and on top of all that, we must be able to do it better! However, this may have been the case at some point in the past, but in the world we live in today, chances are you don’t know how everything works. In fact, the people who report to you often know much more about their jobs and do it better than you. So what should a leader do?
There are new rules of engagement in a no-normal world. The first rule is to learn how to ask! As a leader, give yourself the freedom not to have all the answers and understand that if it hasn’t happened already, soon you won’t know enough to be the expert. Learn how to ask and what to ask. Have the courage and confidence to ask and not tell. Find out what your employees want you to know and what they want you to do. No-normal leadership is all about asking. It comes down to allowing old paradigms to disappear – a new era requires a new view.
Leader as engager – as enabler – is the role that will successfully navigate the perfect storm that is coming. Securing and maintaining the connection between the organization and the individual is our new role. Like our no-normal economy, that role has yet to exist.
When we asked over 1,700 individuals what they wanted from their leaders, the resounding responses were, “Ask me for suggestions. Allow me to give opinions without stopping me before I even start. Listen, don’t just pretend to listen. Stop looking in on me so much, am I not trusted? Stop trying to do everything yourself and include me in on tasks. I can lighten your load. Stop ignoring concerns and suggestions.”
We don’t know for certain what is coming and what will be required of all of us. We don’t know enough to predict or control, if we ever really did. That being said, we must find out and to do so, we have to ask. Simply put, asking makes us more successful at influencing others. Leaders who ask how they can be more effective, adopt the suggestions they can, and follow through on resolutions, will see all of their results improve.
Make asking a daily habit with your team. You will develop much more insight, and along with that insight, gain the trust of those who work for you.