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More Questions to Get the Monkey Off Your Back



Napoleon Bonaparte is considered one of the world’s greatest leaders on the battlefield. One would argue that in today’s business world often decisions and issues need to be resolved in a climate as tension filled, congested and heated as a battle. Fortunately no one gets killed, although in many cases the decisions can result in dramatic company revenue losses and lead to jobs lost.
In Dale Carnegie training Napoleon’s leadership provided examples to follow. Napoleon knew and practiced delegation and empowering his subordinates extremely well. He required his subordinating generals to answer these 4 questions before bringing him any issue:
  1. What’s the problem?
  2. What is the cause of the problem?
  3. What are all the possible solutions?
  4. What is the best possible solution?
Ask your people to come to you with solutions. If you begin to require your subordinates to complete these set of questions you’ll notice that they begin to make better decisions on their own. I recall in my broadcast general manager days requiring my subordinates to complete these questions, which I had created pads of paper for them to easily do, before they approached me with any issue. My sales manager was sent  back to her office on an issue one day when she failed to complete one.  Later that same day when I asked her if she still needed help she responded, “Oh I figured if I had to fill those questions out I could figure out the solution myself.”   Do you see the power this can have?
One of the reasons we become the chief problem solver in our companies is because we feel important when others come to us for solutions. It’s a dangerous situation to get to in our management or leadership position. Leadership is about asking the right questions, getting increasing growth and performance from our subordinates. Developing the people we work with to reach and exceed their potential is the highest degree of leadership and management skills. Our belief in our people helps them to grow, but we can’t do it for them. Our exercise will not make them stronger. Only their exercising their skills and competences will achieve that. 
Years ago I recall one of the salespeople I had worked with earlier in my career approaching me at a broadcasting event. I had not seen her in probably ten years. Since leaving the radio station where we worked together when I was sales manager she had gone on to become a sales manager and was now a General Manager at a radio station in Minnesota. She was effusive in her praise for the training I had provided her and felt without it she never would have reached the career achievements she had.
Without her personal desire and commitment she wouldn’t have reached the heights she attained. Many of us need a catalyst to strengthen, buttress, and reinforce what we aspire to achieve. Had I never met her again I would never have known she felt my influence had bolstered her career. Would you like to have someone say that about you some day?   Perhaps you already know that feeling.    
Helping our people think for themselves, come up with better solutions and raise their level of performance is the ultimate test to your leadership skills. Get the monkey off your back and get your people to become what they are capable of achieving. 
Let’s talk about why employees fail and what you can do to within reasonable measures, to assure they perform to their capabilities. Next blog: Why Subordinates Fail.  


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Positioning Systems helps business owners and entrepreneurs transform their business.   We provide the tools and coaching to help you take control of your business -- rather then having your business control you.