In Your Leadership: How Do You Help Others Articulate Their Ideas? Part 2
Leadership Lesson: How do you use the questions here to help bring out what other people are thinking and what they can contribute?
Ideas may exist in people who surround you, untapped, ready for the taking.
They can be harnessed from knowledge others are holding onto while they flesh out the details, knowledge they may not even be aware they hold, or knowledge which can be created through the curiosity they hold, which can also be tapped for vision generation.
Ask yourself these questions about how you interact with others to help them articulate their ideas:
…stop to converse with others?
This one may sound like common sense, but it’s worth stating the obvious: It’s important to take the time to get to know those around you, to realize both their talent and who they are as a person.
It’s also vital to not only engage in conversation when its required or merely related to the work in play. There is so much a person can provide outside of those needs, if approached and asked to share.
…ask questions to learn?
It’s important to ask just as much as, if not more than, talk. We can learn from others by posing questions to gauge their thoughts, their mood, their ideas, their aspirations, their goals, their thinking process, etc.
We want to ask questions to find and explore the knowledge which might exist within those around us. Most people may be navigating the workplace or mission solely in reactive mode. It’s important to learn what else they want to share in, as opposed to merely take in from, the environment.
…listen to what they say?
It’s key to always pay attention to what others are sharing with us. And this means we should take into account what they’re sharing both explicitly and implicitly through their combination of words, body language, tone, and demeanor.
When someone feels heard, they feel both empowered and understood.
…ask questions to clarify?
To further demonstrate commitment to learning about someone, questions should be asked to follow up on responses.
It demonstrates commitment to understanding and curiosity to learn, both of which will do the same in the speaker, reinforcing their own willingness to open up.
…test their thinking?
Beyond asking questions to listen, it’s important to also challenge the reasoning of the person.
This entire process isn’t about just accepting everything a person says, misbelieving that that acceptance reflects a genuine gesture of communication and openness.
It’s about challenging the person to sharpen their argument and accept new considerations and feedback, which can reshape how they think about the topics and issues at hand.
…follow up and evaluate later?
The last starting point is to make sure to follow up with the person. It doesn’t need to be a formal sit-down or meeting. Just a mention, in passing, of the conversation reassures the other party of the importance of the interaction.
It’s great for a leader to make sure the other person is following up on the discussion and building upon the learning points of the initial or previous conversation. It proves the interaction and curiosity were not just lip service.
The interaction and follow-up don’t mean that everything will be executed but instead that a conversation and discussion have started and can be ongoing. It’s all a work-in-progress.
Don’t just go with what people present. There is more to everyone’s story.
We can inquire to determine if there is more they want to share—or not. It’s possible that the person we interact with, even in an attempt to have them open up and share, chooses not to share for their own reasons. The important part is that they were afforded the opportunity to share, and that the leader made a diligent effort to learn about them.
And even if someone doesn’t share today, it doesn’t mean a seed has not been planted for tomorrow. Like most things, achievement, complete understanding, or finalization, however you want to refer to it, doesn’t have to occur today. Some things just need to sit for a while before anything comes from them.
So, how do you get the best out of people you work with? People should be getting better as a result of having worked with you.
Sometimes, people don’t know what being and getting better look like. They may not know how good they can be. They might not know what is “allowed.” (Some environments and leaders may intentionally choose not to operate with a similar curiosity and openness.)
In the end, as a leader, it is up to you to bring the best ideas and performance out of people.