What do you think? A simple question but it could be one of the most powerful questions a leader can ask.Within those simple words lay the power to collaborative leadership.
Those words give an invitation to team members, supervisors, and peers to interject their thoughts into the subject.
When you ask the question you invite input.
- ask your peers, they have a different view into your area
- ask your supervisor, you will a view of the direction to take
- ask your team members, especially if they are to implement a final decision, they have in-the-trenches knowledge.
Asking the question gets buy-in but also you are the benefactor of a wealth of knowledge. By asking ‘what do you think?’ you are able to make a well informed decision.
What happens if you only allow or invite a few voices in or don’t even ask ‘what do you think?’
- no collaboration
- less information to make a decision
Caution: asking ‘what do you think?’ is not a path to consensus but to clarity. When you invite people to join the conversation about a decision you should indicate that you are not taking a vote on the topic, but rather value their opinion which will help you make the decision.
Patrick Lencioni in his book The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, makes this statement about gathering information on topics and decision making:
there is something to be said for providing people in an organization with channels for upward communication, whether that takes the form of employee surveys or roundtable discussion forums. What is key to making these effective is that leaders not give the impression that they are abdicating responsibility for decision making by giving employees a vote. Great organizations, unlike countries, are never run like a democracy.
Ultimately someone has to make the decision however the leader can make a more informed decision with buy-in from a larger group when is willing to ask “what do you think?"
Do you use these or similar words to invite collaboration?