The dangerous answer-man

I like to give people answers. Knowledge is power so I wrongly think answers enhance my power and elevate my status.

However, answers get in the way.

For example, in a recent meeting I was asked how to keep a repetitive activity fresh. Rather than turning the question back to the group, I answered. While answering, it became clear to me that I wasn’t bringing out the best in others.

It’s harmful for leaders to assume responsibility for answers.

Four reasons you shouldn’t give answers

Answers end thinking, creativity, and innovation.

Answers shift responsibility to the answer giver.

Answers create what-abouts. When you give an answer there’s an unwritten rule that states, “You are responsibility to answer all what-abouts.”

Answers don’t enhance ownership.

When to give answers

Answer your boss.

Answer to help choose among options that others present.

Answer when personal advice is sought.

Answer after asking questions.

Answer when you are the expert and you don’t want others to gain expertise through their own experience.


When do you think it’s best to withhold answers? When should you give an answer?


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Leadership Freak

Dan Rockwell