As a type-A personality and as a mother, I am quick to answer questions – those posed by my children or pretty much anyone else. What I am finding, though, is that it is almost a detriment to others. Convoluted as it may seem, it may be better for me to stop answering the questions. This does not mean ignore the questioner, but I need to do a better job of leading the questioner down the path of figuring it out for him or herself. Since I am so quick to answer, I am not allowing or fostering the idea of critical thinking in others, which means they need me more to answer their questions. I believe this is a struggle for other leaders as well.
The problem is I usually DO know the answer. I can see the path ahead or the “right” choice to make or (in the case of my children) where the shoes were left last. I am also sometimes a little low on patience skills, which fosters the desire to just answer the question and move on with life. With this in mind, it is a win-win for me as the leader to push back and not answer questions so directly with a final decision. I need to learn more patience and how to guide people better and he or she will learn better critical thinking, which is invaluable.
I see this as a common problem today. Many people are looking for the quick solution or the immediate response to be doled out instead of figuring things out for themselves. We seek out truth, but for some reason we hesitate if seeking involves work. I think leaders have to be aware of those moments when giving out the answer may solve the problem but in the long run doesn’t help the situation. We have to make the time and give the latitude to teach and guide others. There is real strength in this as shown through confidence building and empowerment. Next time I will work harder to be silent since I want others to work harder at thinking.
CEO, The Professional Development Team