‘I want to tell less and ask more, but I only have 5 minutes to help someone sort a problem. There’s just no time for coaching!’
This is a challenge that most leaders face! Someone comes to us with a problem, and we ‘know’ the answer. We want to get things done and it’s quicker just to tell them.
If giving the solution – ‘telling’ – is such an efficient and effective approach, why do they keep coming back with similar problems?
A coaching approach would be more effective in the long term. When we ask someone a thought provoking questions, different parts of their brain respond. When they answer the question with insight, the brain’s reward system kicks in – they get a hit of dopamine which leaves them feeling good.
Corrinne! You’re not listening to me – I don’t have time for coaching! This was the challenge expressed in a Leaders Who Ask training program last week.
Right – I got it! Not time for a full coaching conversion… With only 5 minutes, what questions could you ask that would help them come up with the solution?
These were the questions my training group came up with:
- When do you need this resolved by? (May not need a response now)
- Could we talk about this at our next catch up when we have more time?
- What have you tried so far?
- What would you recommend to me if I was coming to you with this challenge?
- What solutions have you thought about?
The likely impacts when you tell:
- You feel good – there is a satisfaction in providing the solutions
- You remain a bottle neck in the workflow. The next time they face a similar challenge, they will come back to you for the answer
- They feel disempowered.
The likely impacts when you ask:
- They feel good after a dopamine reward for coming up with the answer
- They are more likely to generalize that answer to similar future challenges, meaning they won’t need your help
- They feel empowered
- (and a bonus 4th) Increasingly after using an asking approach consistently, you will free up time for the strategic activity you don’t seem to have time for now.
What question(s) will you try next time someone bails you up with ‘What should I do?’
Ask more. Tell less. They will benefit and so will you!
Go Fearlessly – Corrinne