Here’s a gold nugget from a conversation we had this morning…
A new friend shared, “In the middle of a challenging situation, someone came to one of our leaders looking for a solution. Instead of simply telling them what to do, they asked this simple question. ‘What do you think we should do?’ It immediately shifted our approach and gave that individual ownership over the solution to the challenge.”
“What do YOU think we should do?”
Those words are some of the most empowering we have to offer. In recent conversations with leadership coaches, we’ve heard the same theme over and over again. Owners and leaders have a hard time letting go, and when they do delegate, they often take things back in the midst of challenges. The result? They’re overwhelmed by all that’s on their plate, drifting away from why they started the business in the first place, and their teams never reap the reward of owning their decisions.
Ownership is essential. If we want our teams to thrive and individuals to grow, we need to create space for that to happen. Asking them, “What do you think we should do?” is one of the ways we make that happen.
That question requires two things from leaders: Trust and humility. When we trust our people and set our egos aside, we can transfer the ownership for our organization’s growth and success to the individuals and teams that have the power to make good things happen. None of us, no matter how talented we are, can do any of this alone. We have to give some of the ownership away when it comes to decision-making and problem-solving – and when we do, everyone wins.
This isn’t to say that, as leaders, we should let go of responsibility for the challenges we face. That’s not it at all. There will be times when we need to step in and take the lead, and you’ll know when those times are. They’re generally obvious at the moment. Most of the time, though, we can lead best by allowing others to develop their own leadership.
The next time someone brings you a challenge, ask this simple question first. “What do YOU think we should do?” Step aside, make room for your teams and individuals to take ownership of the challenge, and see what happens. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised.
P.S. As leaders at OrangeBall, we are a work in progress when it comes to this. We’re not sharing this because we have it all figured out – it’s something we’re focusing on as we grow, and we hope sharing gold nuggets like this one is valuable to you as well!