Do You Really Need an Answer?

It’s a bit of a joke around SGR, but there’s a touch of truth in it, too. The running joke is when one of us says, “How many times have I told you that ‘I am a Team Player!’” The touch of truth behind it is our theory that the more someone tells you that “I am a Team Player!” the less likely it is that they really are a team player. Team players care too much about the team to constantly be talking about themselves. The truth is that if you’re a team player, you don’t have to always go around saying it. It will show. People will know.

Along those lines, I’ve developed another theory: “The more someone tells you that they want help, the less likely it is that they will listen to the help that you offer.” I can think of several situations recently where l found myself listening to a leader pour out his complaints, punctuated by seemingly earnest pleas for help. However, it became obvious that they didn’t want, and perhaps didn’t need, any help beyond being listened to.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with needing to be heard. We all (and by all I mean ALL) need for others to listen to us. No exceptions. Therefore, one of the real gifts we can offer to people is merely the gift of listening without criticism or solutions. As a leader in your organization, you could probably make a much larger impact than you realize by listening empathetically to your team. Try it.

Related to that, it’s an indication that you need more emotional intelligence if you too quickly rush in with solutions, opinions, and suggestions when what the person really wants and needs is just for you to listen. I’ve made that mistake more times than I care to admit. People don’t usually appreciate unsolicited advice.

But what does it mean when a person repeatedly asks for help, yet objects to every solution?

It might mean that they already know what they need to do, but they just don’t want to do it.  Hence the theory, “The more they ask you for help, the less likely it is that they will take your advice.” Because it’s actually not an answer they need.  It’s the courage to act on the answer they already know.

So, time to look in the mirror, my friend. What’s the issue that you keep asking someone to help you with, while at the same time rejecting every solution as unacceptable? Could it be that what you need is not the answer, but rather the courage to act on the answer that you already know?

Here’s a challenge: If you want to be the kind of leader whose organization is a 16 percenter…stop asking for someone to give you an answer that you already know. Great leaders have the courage to act!

Mike Mowery

Written by:
Mike Mowery
Chief Operations Officer, Strategic Government Resources

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