Friday, July 2, 2010

2010: What will be the patterns and their implications ?

Do you have the Courage to Ask ? Ask, “ What needs to be done?”

Peter Drucker onced Remarked, “ The leader of the past knew how to tell; the leader of the future will know how to ask.”

Why is asking so important ? Today all leaders manage knowledge workers. It is hard to tell people what to do and how to do it when they already know more than we do! Today, we need to ask, “ What needs to be done?” listen, and learn from everyone.

Leaders who ask co-workers for suggestions, listen to them, learn from them, and consistently follow-up, are seen as more effective. Similarly, customer satisfaction goes up when service reps ask, listen, learn, and follow-up. When people ask us for input, listen to us, learn from us, and follow-up, our relationship with them improves. If this is so obvious, why don’t we do it ?

As a rule, leaders don’t ask ! One reason is an inflated ego. When I ask leaders to rate themselves relative to their peers, about 85 percent of them rank themselves in the top 20 percent ! And the performance of the company has little to do with their assessment.

When we succeed, we tend to attribute good results to our own motivation and ability and attribute poor results to environmental factors bad luck, or random chance.

When we over-rate our own performance and knowledge, we easily justify not asking others for their input.

However, the main reason why we don’t ask is fear. I once asked a VP of Customer Satisfaction, “ Should your employees be asking their key customers for feedback- and then listening, learning, and following-up to ensure service keeps getting better?”

“Of Course!” he exclaimed.

“If you believe in asking so much, why don’t you do it?” I inquired.

“ Because I am afraid of the answers, “ he ruefully admitted.

We don’t ask because, deep down inside, we are afraid of the answers.

My Suggestions:

As a leader, start asking key co-workers for their ideas on what needs to be done. Thank them for their input, listen to them, learn as much as you can, incorporate the ideas that make the most sense and follow-up.

As a Coach, encourage the people that you are coaching to ask, listen and learn from everyone around them. Be a great role model, then ask the people you coach to learn in the same way.

Improving interpersonal relationships doesn’t have to take a lot of your time. It does require having the courage to ask for people’s opinions and the discipline to follow-up and do something about what you learn. Who do you need to ask, “ What needs to be done?” When are you going to start asking?