What Do YOU Think?


The next time someone comes into your office or cube and asks you to
solve a problem, do this instead:

Look at them in the eye. Then ask ’em, “what do you think?”. Then wait.

Don’t take the problem on. Don’t assume that because they have come to
you, you should solve the problem. Cause what you do by being the
chief problem solver is teaching everyone else is that YOU (and you
alone) are the problem solver. Do you really want that? Or do you want
everyone in your organization to solve many problems?

When we solve other peoples’ problems, we are actually saying to them,
“I don’t believe in you” or perhaps closer to the truth is… “I
believe more in me than in you”.

What kind of organization or innovation culture does it create when
you believe more in you than in them? A more limited one.

A human truth: When any of us feel powerless — to any degree — we
stop seeing how we can contribute to solve the problem. This can apply
to our workplaces, or how we perceive our role in our democracy, or
whether we believe we can create social change for the betterment of
the world. When ever we put ourselves into the position of
powerlessness, the problem is then “someone else’s” to own. And when
we leaders step into the space of problem solving for others, we
reinforce this passivity of belief and approach. It’s a part of
humanness to do this. I know I’ve done it and it’s up to us leaders to
start modeling the change we need in our organizations. All leaders,
at all levels, regardless of title or rank. We can shift the
organization with one this one simple question.

Tell your colleagues you believe they have the ability to solve
whatever problem they have just tried to lay at your door. Do that 5
times in a row, and they’ll know that they can come up with solutions
and they will become more powerful in knowing that they can. Adding
your own words and ideas around “I believe in you” will invite people
to be better.

And, this can apply to our role as parents also. It is as true for
parents raising children or leaders leading; by solving “their”
problems, we are enabling dependence and passivity, rather than
interdependence and personal strength.

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