Yes, someone needs to eventually make a decision. But if you want to fully engage the people on your team, you have to routinely ask the magic question: “What do you think?”
People want to contribute to the conversation. They want to be part of the big decisions. Don’t worry if you don’t take their advice every time. That’s not their expectation either. They just want to know their voice has been heard.
People Are Different
There are certainly some folks who appreciate a more directive style of leadership, who say, “Just tell me what to do, and I’ll go get it done.” Those people will value your decisiveness.
Leaders, though, want to be a part of the big-picture conversations. They want to shape the strategy. For them to be fulfilled, they need to contribute to the process and the decisions about next steps.
Leaders are different too. Some leaders will volunteer their voice. They’ll pipe in. They won’t hold back. They talk first, and they'll process as they verbalize their thoughts.
Others are silently processing the current situation. They’re considering options. They’re analyzing pros and cons. They’re considering how different alternatives will impact different people. Until you ask them, though, they’ll remain silent.
Don’t Misinterpret Their Silence
They’re fully engaged. They’re just waiting for permission to contribute. And believe me, you want their contribution. When they talk, they’ve already analyzed the situation in their mind and will offer valuable insights for you to consider.
How do you mine those rich contributions? You simply pause to ask the question, “What do you think?”
Yes, it’s possible someone is silent in a conversation because they’re completely disengaged. If that’s the case, they don’t need to be in future conversations. That’s the rare exception.
Most times, silence is an indication that someone is processing internally. It’s your responsibility as the leader to draw that out.
When it comes to leadership, one size doesn’t fit all. The answer is probably already in the room.
You just need to ask.
Tony Morgan is the chief strategic officer and founder of TonyMorganLive.com. He’s a consultant, leadership coach and writer who helps churches get unstuck and have a bigger impact. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, Ga.), NewSpring Church (Anderson, S.C.) and Granger Community Church (Granger, Ind.). With Tim Stevens, Tony has co-authored Simply Strategic Stuff, Simply Strategic Volunteers and Simply Strategic Growth—each of which offers valuable, practical solutions for different aspects of church ministry. His book Killing Cockroaches (B&H Publishing) challenges leaders to focus on the priorities in life and ministry.
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