Photo by Matthew Henry via Burst

I ask questions (a lot of questions)

Explaining my personal blueprint

I started writing while drinking a beer at my favourite bar. It was halfway through my second pint that I felt things come together. I was writing my personal blueprint, a gruelling exercise that I now recommend to everyone in a leadership or authority role.

A blueprint identifies the way you work and lead. A tool for everyone you work with to understand your approach, and how you interact with them.

Over the next few posts, I’m going to share my blueprint and the why behind each section in it. My hope is this will help you create your own blueprint to explore your leadership style and values.

I started my blueprint with:

I am here to maximize our team, to level us up as a group and as individuals. Your success is my success. I’m a Type 5 (Investigator), and an INFP. I value measurable impact (qualitative or quantitative). I like to question common sense, and will always try something once.

The rest of the blueprint is broken up into sections, each with a title and a blurb. The first section is titled I ask questions (a lot of questions). It’s an approach I’ve learned from the best leaders I’ve worked with.

I don’t have a map, but I can help you use a compass

Giving someone no map is much, much better than giving him a wrong map. 
 ― Nassim Taleb

We work on dynamic, unique projects, that are changing fast. Any map I provide would be wrong and out of date in hours.

I want us to make decisions based on the terrain, what we discover and see, not blindly following a map and ending up in a patch of poison ivy. By asking questions, I help build heuristics to determine the “right” path for us to take.

My team is smarter than I am

I hear so many times, ‘Oh, I want my people to be smarter than I am.’ It’s a lot of crap. You want to be smarter than your people, if possible. 
― Donald Trump

I’m certain everyone on my team is smarter than I am. I wouldn’t have hired them if they didn’t wow me at least a few times during the interview.

Questions challenge them, help push them to the limits of their creativity. Questions will explore the problem and force us to investigate ignored paths.

All you need is something simple, try “Why?” or “What if?”.

They have more context

Until you’ve been washed ashore you can’t know how all encompassing the sea has become.
― John Maerz

With a 1,000 foot view, I know little about the actual terrain they are navigating. Questions help me understand the problems they’re facing and the surrounding area.

They own the decision

The conflict and struggle of fixing one’s own problems is the key to creativity.
― Farhan Thawar

Knowing when you need to own a decision, and when you need to push your team to is difficult — I haven’t mastered it. My default is to push them to make a decision by asking questions. This makes it collaborative and removes some of the cognitive load of making a decision.

If a decision stalls or the risk is high, I need to own the decision and resulting failure.