Leadership – Questioning Beats Telling

This article and the video it prefaces drove one of the personal breakthroughs I had after I quit working at a very large online travel company. What I took away from this was:

  • I am not the smartest person in the room. Just get over it.
  • The best results from a group of smart people come from the leader asking good questions, so as a leader focus on the questions to ask and let your team answer them.
  • People who are challenged to answer questions and come up with solutions or actions will be the best people to follow through on them, because they will own those answers.

This has helped me enormously in the role I have right now. I’m an Information Security Manager in corporate, charged with helping our money making market units become more secure. This is a hard job involving culture shifts; shifts that cost time & effort to put in place.

The members of my team are all higher level managers, have more certifications than me, and have years of experience in the Information Security knowledge domain. I am there as a bridge connecting Information Security expertise with software development expertise. I ask the questions from that perspective since I’m able to reflect the dev team’s issues as questions to the team.

We’re making good progress. Very good progress. It’s simply because when I think about how my team can do this, I spend most of my thinking time framing the right questions to ask about the stage we are in.

So here you go, video and cover text for a talk by Robert Kaplan, Professor¬† at Harvard Business School –

The Leadership Mistake Very Smart People Make | Inc.com.