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What is your ratio of statements to questions?

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In reading/listening to Jim Collins’ work in How the Mighty Fall, a particular line caught my attention. It was to the tune of: Be wary when the ratio of statements to questions from key leadership increase in the way of statements. It’s not verbatim, but close.

There have been scary times in many of our clients’ businesses, and maybe a few in yours as well, when leaders felt the need to make bold statements of confidence in the face of impending tragedy or uncertainty. This is not uncommon. Neither are catastrophic collapses of once prominent and stable businesses. But Collins’ book suggests a different approach

As a key leader in your company, and someone tasked with organizational alignment, consider increasing the question side of the ratio.

Instead of trying to sound strong or confident by making bold statements, ask engaging questions that strike to the core the situation or business reality. Your questions will increase the motivation and connectedness of your employees to the strategic plan of the company.

Those of our clients who have taken a proven organizational development theory and applied it to their strategic planning methods can systematically have the confidence to ask questions in the face of uncertainty, rather than make bold statements founded in ambiguity.

Which are you?