A Single Transformational Question
One of the great gifts you give team members is opportunity to reflect on their journey.
“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” Peter Drucker
Leaders energize teams when they help team members bring their best selves to work.
A single transformational question:
“What are you learning?”
Don’t ask, “What have you learned?” It suggests finality. Finality is death.
Don’t wait for failure to ask, “What are you learning?”
When was the last time someone asked you, “What are you learning?”
7 specific expressions of what are you learning:
- What are you learning about yourself?
- What are you learning about managing your energy?
- What are you learning about leadership?
- What are you learning about your team?
- What are you learning about your boss?
- What are you learning about customers?
- What are you learning about what matters?
5 Follow-up questions:
Second questions are even more powerful than first.
- How might the things you are learning change you?
- What might you do differently in view of what you’re learning about yourself?
- How might your learnings change the way you treat others and yourself?
- In view of your learnings, what might you need to stop doing? This is one of my all-time favorites. One reason you’re stretched too thin is starting is easier than stopping. Teams that can’t replace ineffective behaviors with effective always end up stuck.
- How might the things you’re learning cause you to redefine what matters now?
The path unfolds as you go, not before.
Action followed by reflection:
- Protects teams from blindly repeating the past.
- Enables team members to grow into their best selves.
- Builds platforms for greater success.
How might you finish the question, “What are you learning about…?
How might leaders help team members bring their best selves to work?
Great stuff. Related to this is the wisdom of a carpenter I worked for when I fisrt left school:
“Think thrice, measure twice, cut once”.
Loads of people over the years have quoted the last two bits at me, “measure twice, cut once”, but he was the only one who ever but that bit of reflection in there before the action.
Without that reflection, you risk getting lots of accurately-cut pieces of wood you don’t actually need!
Thanks John. And who needs irrelevant pieces of wood? 🙂
Asking the question often starts the active learning. When we simply do, do, do, and don’t stop to reflect on it, we miss the learning opportunity and find ourselves back in the same place again. So often our days are filled with activity and “stuff”. It’s wonderful when a leader stops to find out how you are benefitting from what is going on.
I like the active nature of changing the question to learning versus learned. Another way to finish the what are you learning is ‘that is impacting your short term goals” and/or ” that is impacting your long term goals”. I think even having these types of engaging interactions helps team members feel involved in their own development and shows the leader is interested in them as individuals beyond their role in the organization.
This is outstanding Dan… And extremely useful. Questions are certainly key in any coaching relationship, but good questions increase that effectiveness exponentially. Good questions impact the brain in a powerful way. They can open the higher brain centers, associated with reason, critical thinking and big picture thinking. Poor questions on the other hand, can stimulate the defensive, “lizard” portions of the brain, that can quickly lead to a downward spiral in a once-promising coaching relationship.
Okay, I just crafted three Haiku to help illustrate the issues and opportunities about reflection, perception, discussion, and improvement along with communications and teamwork:
In the front of all things
Could engage others
In the back of all things
Talk little with boss
Will we all meet there
Where it all comes together
And make real progress?
Hmmm? (Yeah, I got off on one of my tangential creative streaks…)
Ah, one more as the page closed:
Transform. A great theme.
But quite hard to accomplish.
Step back from wagon.