You Don’t Have to Be “The Answer”

This week we’re going to talk about why you don’t have to be “The Answer.” Many business leaders think that they have to be the answer to everything and everyone. It may seem that the other people in your business are not even trying to get the solutions that they need, and instead are coming to you for all the answers in order to shortcut the process.

And sometimes we do cultivate that culture in our organizations because it feels good to be the answer person. It feels like you’re the knight in shining armor that rides up on a steed, solves problems for everyone else, and makes their lives better. It’s really nice, but it is also limiting. If you’re creating that crutch in your culture, and it forces you to have to work much harder than you potentially would otherwise.

Of course, you do have to be a resource for your people. But good leadership is more than simply providing answers to everything all the time. You have to avoid conditioning your people not to think on their own. You have to challenge them to think, so that people at all levels in your business are able to make decisions, and they don’t have to rise up to you. There are really not that many situations that require the president of the company to make the decision. If you’ve got competent people, decisions can be made lower and lower in your organization.

There is one question that you can use to help drive down those decisions to a lower level in the organization in order to free up your time and energy, and condition your employees to learn that decisions can be made at all levels of your business. “What do you think we should do?” It’s as simple as that. You can use that with your children. You can use it with your employees. You can use it for people at church or on the committees that you’re on or whatever. “What do you think we should do?”

When you listen to the answers, most of the time people will have things pretty well figured out. You might give them a suggestion here or there, or maybe a tip. And every once in a while they’ll go off course and you’ll need to center them back a little bit. That’s okay too. But 95 times out of 100, they already know what needs to get done. They’re just looking for confirmation. So in order for you to free up your time and your energy and your life to do the things that you as the leaders uniquely need to do in your businesses, you have to drive down decision making. Asking your employees “What do you think we should do?” will allow you to do that.

Written by RLO Training