Hypothesis vs. Directives


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In the past I have written about the importance of guidelines versus rules when empowering employees. The same philosophy can be applied to leaders when they interact and provide direction to their team.

As a leader it is your responsibility to set the direction for your team. However, if that direction is always expressed as directives about what you want and how you see things — the team quickly starts to lose any sense of ownership in the process.

Instead, think about how you can engage their interest in the process by including their thinking and contribution in developing a direction. Rather than “here’s how we need to proceed”, try something like “I have been thinking along these lines — what do you think?” Then encourage the team to share their thoughts and ideas to brainstorm alternative ways or bullet-proof the way you have suggested.

As a leader you will continue to shape the direction and encourage and challenge people to think deeper in different directions to ensure that all the facts and options are considered before a decision is reached.

My perspective: A number of benefits accrue from this method.

First, you often hear great ideas from people who have a different perspective on any given situation. If you have truly hired great people to be part of your team, you can expect great thinking from them. This approach encourages debate and gives people permission to voice concerns.

Secondly, when members of your team have legitimate input on direction, the team feels a stronger sense of ownership with any project — so they have a deeper level of engagement with the process and the outcomes.

Lastly, you are building the capacity of your team to think. Lots of good ideas often lead to great ideas — and when you encourage your team to to think — you will more often get great ideas.

Of course, as a leader, you must also be willing to give up total control over projects, or modify your own hypothesis if someone comes up with a better solution.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bill Hogg
Bill Hogg works with senior leaders to inspire and develop high performance, customer-focused teams that deliver exceptional customer service, higher productivity and improved profits. Sought after internationally as a speaker and consultant, Bill is recognized as the Performance Excelerator because of his uncanny ability to create profound change and deliver extraordinary results with the most demanding organizations.


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