Imagine you are a new Senior Vice President for Operations at the ABC widget Company. You took over from a very top-down boss and want to get your people to “level up” the ladder.

You are responsible for producing and shipping your products. Your normal process is to do a batch inspection of the parts before shipping them. This week, because of an unscheduled shutdown on one of your machines, the parts are coming off the line late. If you do the inspection, you will need to air freight the parts to your client to meet the deadline. If you skip the inspection, you risk shipping faulty parts.

Andy is going to play the Production Supervisor and I’m going to play the SVP for operations.

Andy: Hey boss, we have a problem with this week’s shipment. Because of our unscheduled machine outage we don’t have time to do our inspection.

David: Well, what do you think we should do?

Now notice that Andy is bringing in a problem without a solution. This is a commonly camouflaged “tell me what to do.” The trick is to recognize “tell me what to do” and resist providing a solution.

Weekly Nudge: Listen for “Tell me what to do;” and resist providing the answer. Instead ask “What do you think we should do” and hear your people out.

Think: Solving people’s problems may help you grow your company but it won’t grow your people. 

Sometime people are reluctant to tell you what they think. We have 3 strategies you might try – and those will be the subjects of the next three weeks nudges.

Click here to learn more about Leveling Up the Ladder of Leadership!