What is your code of ethics? I spoke about this in my previous blog. I talked about the importance of having a moral compass bound by respect and contribution to others. Admired coaches also handle their relationships with others sensitively and authenticity.
As a leader people come to you for advice. Often you are helping to solve problems and elicit behaviours that produce results. Consider the notion of Socratic questioning where you evoke the correct answers by posing the right questions. Individuals identify more strongly with the answer they come up with because it is they who formulated it. The logical approach, adopted in the questioning, determines the success of the method. This questioning technique does three things:
Consider the socratic technique:
- Create a ‘teachable’ moment - build the right emotional and psychological climate to maximise the individuals input. The communication should be about ‘we’ and ‘us’ and not about ‘you’. The problem should remain in the hands of the person who came to you with it.
- Utilise open questions to draw out the necessary information. Ask them for more information, start with words like…
What’s the problem exactly?
How is it impacting the business, your performance?
When did it start?
Who is involved with this?
Where is most of your concern?
You can even ask why with a little sensitivity.
How do you think this can be changed?
-To gather more detail consider these ‘prompts’, ’lead ins’ or questions
Tell me more about that…
What have you tried already?
What do you think?
Describe how much impact it is having…
Give me some examples…
- With a fair degree of patience you are guiding the individual, in reference or question, to a point of more clarity about resolving the problem. Effectively you are not spoon feeding but promoting ownership and engagement.
- In this process we are freed from the overtly directive mode of interaction with individuals. From this position we needn’t provide the answers but instead carefully define and examine the problem. If the problem is perceived to be jointly shared, an attitude of common involvement and mutual goal sharing will ensue. Within this context barriers can be broken and a sense of trust and openness is established.
So what! Some may say there is so much pressure at work there is no time apply this technique. Have patience as this is a powerful way to communicate and whilst there are always times when clear decisions need to be made quickly, utilising the principles above will set you apart.
Whether a sports coach, youth leader or senior executive you can apply this technique and not only resolve issues but also potentially develop the capacities of individuals and teams.
In my next blog I will enlighten readers about the other side of asking questions to generate problem solving, that being skilfull and authentic listening.
If you have any thoughts or experiences please share them with me. I can then post these (maintaining confidentiality) on a future blog to start a conversation about the topic. This may start a valuable conversation amongst like minded people to help all of us do things better. firstname.lastname@example.org