Why leaders need to resist the urge to fix everything

By Dr. Chantal Thorn 4 minute Learn

Is your advice-giving behavior impeding your means to give attention to the actual problem? Giving suggestions and recommendation are prescribed cures to clear up frequent organizational points resembling lack of engagement or stunted efficiency. However this rush to motion and advice-giving has an actual draw back. Analysis conducted by Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg discovered that 85% of the C-suite executives surveyed felt that their organizations had been unhealthy at diagnosing issues.

There’s a cause leaders leap in. Michael Bungay Stanier, writer of The Teaching Behavior, says “Giving recommendation—even when it’s the flawed recommendation—typically feels much more snug than the ambiguity of asking a query.” And leaders typically really feel obliged to supply up options. However to get to the root of the actual drawback, or to drive innovation, they need to keep curious longer earlier than providing suggestions or recommendation, they usually can do that by asking good questions. 

That doesn’t imply recommendation and suggestions are unhealthy. Leaders simply need to know which technique to use and when.


Suggestions may be efficient, as soon as you realize what the actual problem is.

Recommendation is helpful, so long as your intent isn’t to management the state of affairs.

Teaching, or higher but, coach-like curiosity (slowing down a rush to motion and advice-giving) may be woven into any dialog. It’s an superior beginning place, since staying curious longer and asking questions leads to readability. And readability makes ALL the distinction in having an affect.

Right here’s how one can higher discern and deploy these methods:

Being Coach-Like 

That is often known as asking higher questions and truly listening!

A colleague or direct report comes to you with a difficult state of affairs. What if—until one thing’s on fireplace—you developed a behavior of responding in these moments with curiosity, to allow them to unearth their very own options? 


Utilizing this strategy in the face of a colleague’s problem says: 

  • I respect you. I’ll maintain area and time till you might be clear on the state of affairs at hand. 
  • I belief you. I’ll maintain again my very own suggestions and recommendation when you—the knowledgeable of your impediment—get to the root of the actual problem and potential options.
  • This isn’t about me. I don’t need to be the knowledgeable or to save the day with my nice recommendation. 
  • As a result of I respect and belief you and this isn’t about meI count on one thing from you. I’ll curb my recommendation so that you just do an excellent chunk of the work in checking out no matter state of affairs has come to the forefront. 

That every one sounds nice. However what when you nonetheless have belongings you need to say?

Giving Suggestions 

What when you have good suggestions after somebody initially shares a problem with you. Must you supply it immediately?

Maintain tight. Share your suggestions after working towards your curiosity first and for so long as you possibly can. You’ll be higher geared up to present related suggestions after you have as a lot “knowledge” in your plate as potential from the particular person whose problem it’s. 

When it comes time to give somebody suggestions, it ought to additionally be executed with curiosity. Earlier than giving the suggestions, assume it over and keep inquisitive about your self. Attempt utilizing these questions:

  • What assumptions am I making? 
  • What biases do I maintain? 

Then, keep inquisitive about the different particular person. Take into account what it’s possible you’ll find out about them and what they worth. 

Right here’s a fundamental construction to observe:

  • Share information and noticed behaviour. (e.g., “I’ve observed that in our final three management conferences, you spoke over Chris once they had been offering their replace.”)
  • Describe the affect on others and the particular person in query towards their foreign money or what they worth. (e.g., “It makes me surprise about the respect that you’ve got for Chris, and if possibly others aren’t talking up as typically as they’d like as a result of they’re nervous you’ll discuss over them, too.”)
  • Ask questions and keep curious. (e.g., “I do know we’ve talked many occasions about how essential your management affect is right here and that’s why I wished to discuss to you about this. How can I assist?”)

Consider suggestions as a chance to elevate another person’s consciousness about belongings you’ve noticed, whereas remaining curious, questioning your intent and permitting area for the different particular person to communicate.

Okay however . . . what when you have nice recommendation to share? 

Giving Recommendation

As you’ve most likely come to count on by now, staying curious remains to be related—even when giving recommendation. 

Dr. Chantal Thorn [Photo: courtesy of Box of Crayons]

There’s a distinction between wanting to share your recommendation to be proper or management the state of affairs and genuinely wanting to share so as to help them since you care. Earlier than you share, take a breath and ask your self: What’s my intention in bringing this ahead? 


The hidden (or possibly not so hidden) message you’ll have picked up on, is that staying curious longer permeates all that we do and drastically impacts communication and understanding between groups and colleagues. Suggestions, recommendation and even teaching (embodied as a method of being, relatively than a “to do checklist” for later) all have their time and place however beginning by asking questions may be an organizational lifesaver. Then you possibly can really get clear on the actual problem at hand and the very best method to handle the particular person bringing it to you (possibly the reply is recommendation! Solely the second will inform).

Dr. Chantal Thorn is the director of program improvement for Box of Crayons, a management & improvement firm that helps organizations remodel from advice-driven to curiosity-led. Her 20-plus-year profession spans varied industries, together with ed tech, healthcare, and academia.