NCET helps you explore business and technology
By Kevin Ciccotti
Many leaders rise to success by solving complex problems; putting knowledge into action. Sometimes that strength can become a glaring weakness.
When we’re recognized for a strength, our tendency is to use it – again and again. It feels good and gives us confidence. That may not seem problematic. After all, you get paid to find solutions to challenges.
But does the intelligence in your organization flow only from you to others? As a leader, your obligation is to help your people grow and extract more of their intelligence for the good of the organization. It’s disheartening for your team to come to work and not be able to use all of their intelligence and ability.
Are there warning signs? One thing you’ll notice is feeling like your team isn’t performing at their best; they don’t seem to give maximum effort. It isn’t because they don’t want to. They may think it doesn’t matter because you’ll either correct them or give instructions that take the thinking out of it.
Your people will come to you when they’re facing a dilemma, seeking assistance; taking little time to search for answers. It’s human nature to let you continue to play problem-solver. That’s what you’ve trained them to do.
You’ll also notice that you’re tired – even overwhelmed. You’re the source for answers. You spend so much time tending to issues that there’s little time to get your own work done. It’s unsustainable.
Here are three things you can do to extract yourself from being the know-it-all leader and cultivate the innate genius that’s in your organization.
First, stop telling people what to do or giving them answers. Instead ask for input. Ask, “What are your thoughts on how we should approach this?” Once you’ve asked the question, wait for the answer.
Resist the temptation to tell them what’s wrong with their answer. If you hear something that makes you take pause, ask another question. “What are the possible challenges or unwanted outcomes with this approach?” Get them to examine their own thinking.
Second, become a better listener. In meetings, in hallways, and informal situations, start to listen to what’s being said by your folks. Hear the intelligence that exists within your team that you may have overlooked.
Third, and most important, stop worrying about how smart you look. Talk less; ask more. Give stretch assignments that help people grow. Ask open-ended questions that invite people to dig deeper into answers. Give permission to challenge the status quo. Be there to help when they get in over their heads. Focus on being a source of support rather than the oracle.
You might discover a level of intelligence you never knew was there, and you won’t have to carry the burden of the entire organization.
Kevin Ciccotti, Certified Professional Coach, is President of Human Factor Formula, Inc. and NCET’s VP of Membership, Biz Cafe. NCET is a member-supported non-profit that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology.