Leaders get stuck when they think they have no choice. We sometimes hear leaders saying ‘I’ve no choice in the matter’. Thinking you have no choice is a disempowered place to be.
An important part of coaching is to ask questions that open up a wider range of choices. A leader who coaches will ask questions that challenge their people to generate options to explore how to move forward. A good way to do this is to ask open questions such as:
- What options do you have?
- What else could you do?
People may start with familiar ideas, but with deeper questioning ideas that may be at the edge of conscious awareness may be brought into sharper focus. Questions such as:
- What does the wisest part of you say you should do?
- If you knew you couldn’t possibly fail, what would you do differently?
When you get more creative with your questions, greater flexibility and new options can emerge. Questions such as:
- What is the most outrageous solution to this?
- What is the boldest thing you could do?
- What would your best self say or do here?
Just one of these questions, asked in the right moment has the potential to
open up new possibilities and good choices. Viktor Frankl, in his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, wrote:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power
to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Remember, there is always a choice.
The TOWARD Team
“A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation: “As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It’s not as wide as you think.”
The 2015 Google research on teams highlighted that psychological safety is a key ingredient in building outstanding teams. In our work with leadership and executive teams, we support teams to build that safety through experiential exercises which build a deeper level of conversation.
In these conversations, we support teams to articulate their experiences and challenges in the daily execution of their work and to offer both requests and offers to each other which will facilitate strong relationships.
We recently worked with a newly forming team which included a legacy core group of members alongside newly joined members. The team took risks and worked with courage to express their fears and hopes for what they would be able to achieve together. Members articulated initial experiences, some of which had not been helpful; this was listened to and absorbed. Together the team then created their commitments to how they wanted to work together moving forward to create an inclusive and focused team.
It is our experience that teams who are able to take the risk to offer compassionate feedback to each other and to also receive it with openness and curiosity build a deeper level of trust and psychological safety. This in turn drives a positive experience and strong performance.
The TOWARD Team