There’s often a pressure that leaders feel they should have all the answers. I want to suggest that the best leaders provide questions not answers.
The best leaders realise that they don’t personally need to have all the answers. It’s the responsibility of the team to find the answers. And working on answers together ensures you have more wisdom, more points of view, and will therefore get to a better solution than one person (no matter how gifted) might be able to come up with alone.
Searching for answers together is also a great way to build community and camaraderie on a team. If you don’t go through this process together you’re missing out on a huge part of the team experience.
So a leader doesn’t have to personally provide all the answers. But they do have to discern which questions need answering. And this is actually often harder than it sounds.
Often the right questions are hidden beneath the surface, but it takes thought and skill to articulate them in a clear and understandable way. That’s one thing the best leaders are able to do. They bring clarity through their ability to articulate the right questions, that previously were unclear.
Some of the right questions to ask could be:
How do we expand and at the same time maintain quality?
What are the top three priorities for us over the next 18 months?
Who should we be partnering with? Who can provide the things we currently lack and most need?
What’s the biggest thing that’s holding us back at the moment? How could we solve that?
All these could be great questions to pursue. And you’ll get far better answers to them if you involve your whole team in creating answers, rather than trying to solve them alone. That’s why I say that the best leaders provide questions not answers.
Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s an experienced leadership trainer, author of biographies on John Wesley and William Wilberforce, and is also passionate about praying for London. He enjoys good films, good food, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markonerock.