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3 Words Every Leader Must Memorize

by Craig Ross

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.”

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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