f you’ve made it the top of an org chart, you won’t find yourself there alone: Bad news and your company’s toughest challenges find their way to the top, too. To ensure you succeed, memorize and use three key words: Tell me more.
On the surface, those words seem the antithesis to how leadership should respond when you’ve just heard that a major customer is leaving or your primary vendor has raised costs again. Yet, in the moments they are uttered, leaders we’ve coached with this tactic report these five outcomes:
- Employees experience being heard
- It creates the space to facilitate solutions, rather than be the single source for direction
- Deeper insights into causes and potential are gained
- It communicates that you honor the wisdom, experience and perspectives of others
- And it buys time to consider a response worthy of the position you hold.
Jill, a CEO we coached, had a particular challenge. Because she was quick to respond with judgement to almost everything she heard, she had trained everyone around her to only bring her news in a certain format: filtered of the details she needed to make good decisions.
At first it was difficult for Jill to adjust. In time, however, the three words – tell me more – became a habit. To ensure sincerity in her request for more information, Jill replaced judgment with curiosity. And success followed.
“Tell me more,” Jill reported, “Enables me to lead more.”
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