My favorite form of entertainment is musical theatre. I love to see musicals live, but also enjoy the movie versions. Near the top of my list of favorites is The King and I.
The ever prim and proper Anna Leonowens has come to Siam to be the governess of the children of King Mongkut. The king is stubborn and certain he is right, about everything. Anna succeeds in having great influence over him, not by challenging him or telling him things, but by questioning him. In the end the king learns much from Anna, and she learns some things from him too. In the song “A Puzzlement” King Mongkut sings:
“And it puzzle me to learn
That tho’ a man may be in doubt of what he know
Very quickly he will fight
He’ll fight to prove that what he does not know is so
Is a puzzlement”
Often when someone tells us something that contradicts what we think we know; it creates defensiveness in us, and our brains work even harder to maintain our current position. It can be more effective when we stumble over the truth ourselves.
This reminds me of some great parenting advice I once read: “Talk less and ask more questions.” The article was on how to raise independent and problem-solving children. While the parent-child relationship is unique and special, the desire to have those we care about become able to think through and solve problems is ubiquitous.
As leaders, we want our team members to be capable of finding the truth and constructing solutions for themselves. This is not a call for independence over community, it is an acknowledgment of the reality that a group of people are better when the individuals can think independently.
How do we create an atmosphere where this type of growth is fed and flourishes? How do we help one another trip over the truth? We need to talk less and ask more questions.
What is your plan…?
The answer to this question is the essence of time management. To answer, one must have future awareness and the ability to construct a time line within appropriate routines and schedules. We all need to improve our ability to understand the connection between what we have to do later and the affect it has on what needs to be done now.
What do you need to do in order to…?
This is a question that creates priorities. Asking this helps a person build checklists for their responsibilities. Staring at the whole picture at once can be veryd daunting, finding the first step helps us get moving. Asking what someone’s priorities are requires their brain to do some heavy lifting.
What does ‘done’ look like to you?
While seeing the whole picture can be daunting, not knowing how to tell when we are finished can be just as problematic. We need the ability to look at the end product as part of building a map to get there. This is also a great way for us to make sure we are anticipating the same result.
What could possibly get in your way?
Often, we are overly optimistic when it comes to our plans and future projects. This question helps us think through and foresee the potential barriers and plan ways around them. We want to be optimistic, but we need to be prepared for the inevitable disruptions and difficulties.
As leaders, it is easy to think of communication and personal development in terms of what we tell others. Sometimes there is more to be learned from what we tell ourselves. When we discover things for ourselves, they seem to stick better. A good question is often the catalyst for self-discovery.
Kimray is a place where we care enough about each other to not always give all the answers. Kimray is a place where we care enough to ask each other questions and find our own answers. Kimray is also a place where we learn as much from others as they do from us. Sometimes that can seem like a puzzlement, but it isn’t, it is the Kimray Way.