If you’re anything like me, I bet that you wish you had a magic wand to solve all the problems in and around your life and business. Wouldn’t that be nice? All our seemingly abounding headaches, pressures, stresses…you get the idea.

What if those problems simply drifted away? That haughty daydream may just be a fantasy to most. But what if I told you that most of the answers to your issues, specifically those focused on your business, were standing right beside you day in and day out? Believe it or not, this is actually true, and you have your coworkers to thank for that fact.

I get that you may be skeptical in thinking that the solutions to your problems in business are working side by side with you each day. I mean, have you seen the people I work with?  All jokes aside, there’s a saying that I have on repeat as a business coach. “The answer to your problem is somewhere close by, you just need to know where to look.”

There has never been a time in my coaching career where I haven’t been able to come up with a solution. Untapping that solution, however, requires a level of vulnerability that you must be willing to explore in order to reap the benefits.  

In my experience, solutions to problems rarely come from a single person.  Despite what you may think of yourself, and/or the position you hold within an organization, you are not the ultimate guide and source of knowledge.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m not undervaluing experience or the perspective you offer. I just want to help you fight against the urge to always have an answer to the problems you face.  

In order to allow others to contribute, you must be willing to let go of your ego.  To admit to yourself (and occasionally to others) that you don’t have all the answers, and to recognize that those around you can sometimes see more of what’s going on than you can.

So how do you untap this unlimited resource? Great question!  The answer is multi-faceted and lies within the following questions:

  • What type of relationship and environment have you created with your co-workers?
  • How intentional are you in listening?
  • What type of questions are you asking?

Let’s begin by tackling the first question.  The environment and the relationship we’ve created is pivotal in allowing others the freedom to contribute ideas, concerns, and thoughts without fear or judgement.  If you’ve created an environment that is hostile, intimidating, unresponsive, or unfriendly it’s no wonder why you’re alone, or that no one understands your perception. However, if on the other hand you can create an environment that is respectful, open, inviting, and welcoming, you’ll find a cohesive team working together to solve any and all problems that exist. Honestly ask yourself, “How am I allowing others to thrive and contribute?”  Don’t be afraid of the answer, because despite the response, you’re widening your gaze into who you are as a leader.

Likewise, how active are you in listening to what those around you are saying?  What’s the intent of the conversations you’re having?  Are you reflecting on what’s being said and why it’s being communicated? “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply” – Steven R. Covey. This skill of intentional listening is extremely difficult, and one not easily grasped. I challenge you to attempt to understand this, and to be intentional with how you’re engaging in the conversations happening all around you each day.

Last of all, I have found and am learning that the answers to the problems we face lie close by, so long as we’re willing to ask the right questions.

Asking questions can be tricky for several reasons. First, we fight internally to ask questions because we may not want to know the answer, even if it has the power to transform your business or relationships. We’re perfectly fine living in our comfortable bubble of safety and ease. Take a moment to consider why you don’t ask questions. Some examples from my own life are, but not limited to: not being considerate or thoughtful of others, critical, I already have the answers, already full of my own beliefs that I’m not willing to budge on, and complacency.  Whether we live with ourselves in ignorance than in the thought of a new truth. If this is a hard pill to swallow, you may be on to something. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, said, “We run this company on questions, not answers.” If you keep asking questions you can keep finding better answers.  Asking questions to gain understanding has the power to transform the way you lead!

Take a moment to step outside of yourself. Look around at your employees and invite an open and honest conversation.  Truly listen, create a safe space to share, and ask questions to gain understanding. You may be surprised with what you can hear and the perspective you gain.  

Publication date: 1/14/2019

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