What do you think?

Arguably, the most cost effective strategy on the planet in terms of relationship-building, knowledge-sharing, resource-aligning and vision-casting (yes, vision, too), is the question:

“What do you think?”

Photo by Joey Kyber on Unsplash

I was having discussion with one of my teammates who is being reassigned to the classroom and asking her where she saw herself in leadership in the next few years. She experienced success this year transitioning from the classroom to facilitating all types of leadership moments with new teachers, our team of hybrid teachers, assistant principals, and even principals. This week, she singlehandedly facilitated four meetings that I normally would have been at but couldn’t attend because of family events, and commented on the significant difference of facilitating alone versus having another team member to rely on. She did well and felt confident after all the various challenges. “It was a little like final exams week,” she confided. She was surprised at the phenomenon of how people approached her after the meetings and queued up to talk to her. They sought out her relationship and her insight. It seemed a poignant and perfect moment to talk about her path forward and one of the tricks of leadership I had learned over the years.

Photo by Jason Strull on Unsplash

“You know one of the most overlooked secrets of leadership? It’s asking people what they think.

Giving them an opportunity to talk, to share. We do it strategically in our engagements with learners of all ages — in the communication line, in the circle debrief. We are creating a place for people to practice their leadership skills and creating space for people’s voices to be heard. As you move forward with new leadership opportunities, never forget to ask people what they think. And remember, you never have to have the “right” answer. Leaders don’t tell people what the right answer is. They ask people what their thoughts are. You lead people better when you have their trust and access to their insights and ideas. Effective leadership relies on your ability to connect your vision to what they already know and believe.

Make no assumptions about what people know and believe — simply ask them. You’ll never regret it.”

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