How to Be a Genius in Seven Questions

At the beginning, you offer answers. In the end it’s about questions.

The right answer is always preceded by the right question.

the right answers

Pressure:

Ego inflates when people look to you for answers. As time passes, pressure mounts to be right.  The trouble is, all answers are imperfect, unless it’s math.

The rightness of an answer is always a matter of degree. Leaders escalate stress when they propagate the all-knowing-I’ve-got-it-right myth.

Ego needs to know. Humility needs to ask.

Expectations:

Some organizations expect leaders to have answers, when you don’t, you’re weak or inadequate. But, in truth, it’s institutional helplessness that makes others expect answers from you.

Learn to include everyone in the search for solutions.

Respect:

People who find their own solutions, respect you for helping. But, when you give them the answer, they end up needing you more.

Frequently, a coaching client thanks me for helping. But, really, I just helped them help themselves. People feel empowered when they craft their own solutions.

Join the process; don’t give the solution.

Options:

When you offer answers, offer them as options. You don’t have the answer. You have an answer.

Become a genius by trusting the genius of others.

7 questions to genius:

  1. What do you think?
  2. What do the people on the front line think?
  3. What do our customers think?
  4. What do our suppliers think?
  5. What might our competitors think?
  6. What options are possible?
  7. Which options seem best to you?

The more you include others, the smarter you become.

Tip:

Develop an organizational culture that views all solutions as imperfect.

  1. Build in evaluation. In 30 days ask, “How is our solutions working?”
  2. In 30 days ask, “How might we make this solution better?”
  3. Use “we” instead of “me.”
  4. Ask, “What are we learning?”
  5. Repeat over and over, “All solutions are imperfect.”

Bonus: Perfect as you go, not before.

How might leaders create organizations that look around, rather than up, for answers?

How might leaders transition away from the all-knowing-leader myth?