Go Beyond You for Good Answers
There’s perhaps nothing more challenging for people than when they’re led by know-it-all, arrogant leaders. That said, bosses and company executives who keep their egos on the shelf and discipline themselves to look outward for answers land on great solutions more often and maintain their people’s respect while doing it. You need only to go back a bit in time to understand some of those leaders who did this effectively. Read books on Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Dwight D. Eisenhower, and you’ll discover how they transformed as leaders and came to exude an air of true humility, while remaining confident. Part of that confidence was linked to their ability to make solid decisions based on what they learned from others. They explored nontraditional solutions and bravely tried approaches they learned by asking good questions and noticing what worked and what didn’t. They realized that the experiences and wisdom of others bring value to the table. Believing you must come up with all the answers, all the time, can create problems on many levels. As outlined in our brand-new book, The Disciplined Leader, MAP always coaches its clients on how to go beyond themselves to develop the very best solutions.
Here are three ways to tap the knowledge and experiences of other people and turn to key lessons of both our near and distant past:
Turn to your network. When you’ve got a problem to solve, start probing your team, peers, and professional contacts. Depending on the nature or difficulty of the problem, you may find that you’ll need to schedule in-person meetings. But perhaps all that will be necessary is an email blast, a social media post, or an inquiry to other professionals in your favorite online chatroom or business discussion group. Whatever you do, try to think of who might be able to offer a different opinion or idea than yours…be open to possibilities or what’s been proven to work even if it feels uncomfortable. As the saying goes, “lean into that discomfort” to understand more and whether it just might be the right solution after all.
Read case studies. Facing a tough challenge at work? Research case studies of companies that may have faced similar problems yet developed and acted on a solid, successful solution. This is a practice I’ve used at times when I’ve been really stuck or simply wanted to explore alternative solutions to a problem. Case studies can deliver powerful clues and perspectives into what can work as well as fixes for even just one part of a problem. Whether written up and published in a more formal, traditional manner or explained via some online medium like a webinar or TED Talks, this efficient problem-solving approach can become a tactic to avoid reinventing the wheel, which can save precious time, money and other resources, too.
Tap the power of team consulting. At MAP, we coach our clients to use the team consulting approach. This is when one person presents a challenge to a group of people, then the group gets a couple of minutes for additional discovery questions, spends another specified amount of time developing ideas, and next shares those suggestions—or personal experiences that spotlight a possible solution. After team members share, the person presenting the problem chooses several key ideas to work on and creates accountability around those ideas. Hands down, team consulting is one of the most effective, productive ways to get beyond yourself and your own ideas/experiences. As well, our clients often tell us this powerful exercise delivers excellent results.
What’s become a big roadblock to cultivating good answers for you?