Dwight Eisenhower was recognized as one of the greatest leaders of his era. Imagine having to deal with Patton, Stalin and Roosevelt, and with Marshall, Churchill, De Gaulle, and Montgomery. Each had idiosyncrasies that would drive any leader nuts, but Ike got through it all and achieved victory.
Ike’s favorite leadership technique was to simply ask others: “What do you think?” With that one question, Eisenhower was able to:
Learn what was going on;
Gain insights into other’s thinking processes;
Understand how well someone could articulate their thoughts;
Get different points of view;
Demonstrate an interest in the other person;
Engage the other person and develop their relationship.
Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that produce the greatest results. Those words “What do you think?” are a key to good leadership and give direct reports an opportunity to express their opinion. Additionally, asking the question shows the leader is interested in the thoughts of the direct report, and demonstrates the leader has at least some confidence in the competence of the direct report’s thought processes.
Leaders who empower direct reports by asking them what they think have a more successful team.