The Point: While there are a gluttony of behaviors/actions you should be doing as a leader, we thought it would be interesting to take a typical Tip of the Spear contrarian view of what you should STOP doing as a leader. As such, the following seven (7) part series was developed based on executive coaching conversations had with leaders. In reviewing these leadership behaviors/actions, see if you see a little bit of yourself in the examples provided (No doubt you know several leaders besides yourself guilty)… Enjoy!
An associate comes to you with a “new” idea that they want to implement. This idea represents their view on how things could be better (Read that as reflecting operational improvement efficiency, higher revenues, decreased expenses, increased customer advocacy, etc.) When this new idea is presented to you, what do you do? If you’re like most leaders, you ask the question “Why?”
In Centered Executive Coaching sessions I frequently talk with leaders about how it is that they cultivate creativity. After all, you do want new/exciting ways to do things in your organization, right? In session after session, conversation with leaders across borders/cultures, typically the response comes back regarding the first question asked as “Why?” While you’re attempting to get to the heart of the matter, or reasoning, what your stakeholders hear instead of the curiosity of your question is “Defend yourself and your position which isn’t good.”
Implementation effectiveness is a simple mathematical formula I developed that has (A) the quality of the concept/idea multiplied times (B) the commitment level to implement. Now the quality of an idea can be quite difficult to measure, but let’s base success criteria off of key performance indicators that have traditionally working in the past as well as other items that need to be considered because of the innovation. Commitment level consists of the individual’s ability to see things through to implementation/feedback loop. Keep in mind that this too can be challenging, primarily because implementation may/may not consist of the individual alone (in other words, there might be actual “leadership” moments where they’ll have to get others to follow along!)
Leadership Pause – Stop, Breath, Speak
So if your stakeholders are put on the defense immediately through your use of the question “Why?” what should you do? In researching the effectiveness of interviewing questions, the suggested decreased use of “Why?” should be replaced with anything but! Try using any of the other 5 W’s and H instead.
Along with this new interviewing style, as a leader it is important to break, or pause, take a deep breath, and think before you speak.
Too often I encounter leaders that simply want to rush to judgment when it comes to creative ideas that are submitted. Part ego driven (As a leader, you do have your ego under control don’t you?), and part “best interest” focused moments of creativity soon become disengagement areas for your stakeholders, and a “Why bother?” attitude prevails.
So in this post we covered that leaders should stop crushing their stakeholders creativity through asking questions that rob the individual. Instead, encourage creativity through the proper use of interviewing and implementing the Leadership Pause – Stop, Breath, Speak (Don’t forget to Think before speaking!)
PS – You may also enjoy some of the other recent posts I wrote:
- The Leadership Challenge: Saying “Thank You”
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Mindful?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Better Off Lucky Than Good?
- The Leadership Challenge: Can You Drive the Development of Leaders Who Transform Your Business?
- What’s Inside Your Leadership Time Capsule?
- The Leadership Challenge: 10 Characteristics to Develop Your Executive Presence
- The Leadership Challenge: Happy New Year! Now What?
- Leadership Amnesia: Should You Forget the Past to Move Forward to a Better Future?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are Your SMART Goals DUMB?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Climbing the Leadership Mountain?
- The Leadership Challenge: They Want You To Fail! 8 Leadership Tips to Overcome Failure
- The Leadership Challenge: Do You Exercise Your Moral Muscle?
- The Leadership Challenge: Conducting Post-Mortem Reviews
Sam Palazzolo is the Managing Director at Tip of the Spear Ventures, an agile Venture Capital and Business Advisory Services firm specializing in Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, and Communication Skills Training for Leaders.