I’ve heard a few versions of “Ask yourself if it needs to be said” before speaking out loud. When I heard Kristi Knous speak recently at the 90 Ideas event, I appreciated her 3 questions for leaders before speaking.
I wrote Kristi, as I wanted to get her words just right, and she graciously emailed her prepared text for this portion of her remarks; here they are:
Take the Pause. Do you take the pause to authentically listen and digest what your team members are saying or asking you? As a leader, I think there is pressure to know the answer. You’re the leader, you should have the answers, right? But, I know myself well enough to know that my off the cuff answer is not always the RIGHT answer or response. Taking the pause is one of the hardest things for me, personally. So I’m looking in the mirror on this one. It’s okay to say, I can’t give you an answer right now, I want to put some thought into this. Or, give me a chance to digest this. I can guarantee, I will think about it, and sometimes it’s during a run, shower or sleep, when my brain is resting a bit that the best strategy or solution comes to me. I can honestly tell you, my answer is typically stronger, my thoughts more strategic and my tone more of coach and mentor than “boss” when I take the pause. And as importantly, when you’re taking the pause, emotional intelligence experts would encourage us to ask these three important questions:
“Does this need to be said?”
“Does this need to be said by me?”
“Does this need to be said by me right now?”
And I would add, “If it does need to be said by me, can I say it in truth and love?”
And if I can’t, it’s really time to take the pause.
Think about this from the leadership perspective:
Does this need to be said?
Just because I’m thinking it, doesn’t necessarily mean it will move the discussion forward – I should ponder for a second.
Does this need to be said by me?
Okay, I’ve decided this needs to be said – but will I be stepping on someone else who might want to say the same thing? It’s good for the development of others to let them contribute to the discussion. BUT – sometimes, because I’m the leader, or because I’m me, I’ll see things others don’t, and maybe I do need to say it.
Does this need to be said by me right now?
One more pause- is the time right?
Knous says “take the pause,” my friend Diana says “the third idea is the best,” and I’ve been in Kristi’s shoes – very unwilling to listen. It’s still a temptation of mine to rush ahead. Leaders let others speak as to develop others and humility in themselves.
This post is part of a set of posts inspired by the Business Record’s “90 Ideas in 90 Minutes” event in September 2017. Learn more, download a pdf, and see all the speakers here.