What’s more effective, giving answers or asking questions?
I recently had this question put to me at an industry presentation, and it got me thinking.
I’ve always lived by the belief that as a Leader you should guide with advice, not direct with instruction.
As we develop into positions of being accountable for others, we sometimes fall into the trap or belief that with the additional responsibility there is an expectation on us to know everything and have the answers to all questions within our area of work. Once we have this mindset, it’s only natural to then assume we should impart this magical gift on to all who are willing to listen. Even worse, on to those who aren’t willing to listen.
As we develop into positions of greater accountability, we sometimes fall into the belief that there is an expectation on us to know everything
This approach reduces one’s chances of being an effective and successful Leader. While providing an instruction in response to a request for help will allow the person to complete the task, it’s not the best approach. Yes, it does provide clear direction without accountability for its execution, but is it effective in the development of individuals? Does it create buy-in, reward or a sense of accomplishment?
A more effective approach would be to ask what they think. Ask them if they’ve considered alternatives such as b, c or d. Show them examples of other similar situations and how these were solved, and give them your opinion. But then, before they interpret your opinion as an instruction, make sure it’s clear that the decision is theirs and ensure they understand you’ll back them in whatever decision they make. This type of approach develops their skills and confidence, instils ownership, sets them up for reward and acknowledgement when the outcome is positive, and most importantly it builds trust.
This approach develops their skills and confidence, instils ownership, sets them up for reward and builds trust
The advice you provide guides them to the right answer.
So the question. What’s more effective? The answer…… Asking Questions