Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way Your Lead Forever

by Michael Bungay Stanier

Read:  2018-07-25, Rating:  7/10.

Simple and useful questions for a front line manager, but felt like a blog post stretched into a short book.

Book Notes:

This book gives you seven questions and the tools to make them an everyday way to work less hard and have more impact.

ten minutes of less
a daily, informal act
build a coaching habit

Circle #1: Creating Overdependence
Circle #2: Getting Overwhelmed
Circle #3: Becoming Disconnected

You’re up against the Bind, the Grind and the Resigned. And building a coaching habit is a way of breaking through to a better way of working.

Ask One Question at a Time

1. The Kickstart Question: “What’s on Your Mind?”

Call them forward to learn, improve and grow, rather than to just get something sorted out.

Cut the Intro and Ask the Question

2. The AWE Question: “And What Else?”

1. more options can lead to better decisions;
2. you rein yourself in; and
3. you buy yourself time

Tell less and ask more.
Your advice is not as good
As you think it is.

“And what else?”
“And what else could you do?”
“And what else is a challenge here for you?”
“And what else might be possible?”

Stop offering up advice with a question mark attached.

3. The Focus Question: What’s the Real Challenge Here for You?

Focus on the real problem, not the first problem

“If you had to pick one of these to focus on, which one here would be the real challenge for you?”

“I think i understand some of what’s going on with [insert name of person or situation]. What’s the real challenge here for you?”

“I have a sense of the overall challenge. What’s the real challenge here for you?”

Trust That You’re Being Useful
Remember That There Is a Place for Your Advice
Remember the Second Question

Stick to Questions Starting with “What”

– You put them on the defensive
– You’re trying to solve the problem

Instead of “Why did you do that?” ask “What were you hoping for here?”
“What made you choose this course of action?”
“What’s important for you here?”

The first three questions can combine to become a robust script for your coaching conversation.

4. The Foundation Question: “What Do You Want?”

Nine self-explanatory universal needs

Is it safe here? Or is it dangerous?

T is for tribe.
E is for expectation.
R is for rank.
A is for autonomy

It’s simple. Ask “What do you want?” Tell the person what you want as well.

Get comfortable with silence.

Silence is often a measure for success.

5. The Lazy Question: How Can I Help?

Karpman Drama Triange – Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer

The minute we begin to think we have all the answers, we forget the questions. – Madeleine L’Engle

Be Blunt…
“How can I help?”
“What do you want from me?”

…But Be Careful
“Out of curiosity.”
“Just so I know…”
“To help me understand better…”
“To make sure that I’m clear…”

“What do you think I should do about…?” is the cheddar on the mousetrap.

“That’s a great question. I’ve got some ideas, which I’ll share with you. But before I do, what are your first thoughts?”

6. The Strategic Question: Of You’re Saying Yes to This, What Are You Saying No To?

Yes is nothing without the No that gives it boundaries and form.

Projects, People, Patterns

the secret to saying No was to shift the focus and learn how to say Yes more slowly.

Saying Yes more slowly means being willing to stay curious before committing.

How to Say No When You Can’t Say No (Part 2)

“I’m afraid I have to say No to this,” which is a little better than “I’m afraid I have to say No to you.”

Say Yes to the person, but say No to the task.

The Other Five Strategic Questions

Playing to Win

1. What is our winning aspiration?
2. Where will we play?
3. How will we win?
4. What capabilities must be in place?
5. What management systems are required?

Stop the rush to action and towards the Cliffs of Overwhelm, and ask, “What will you say No to, to make his Yes rock-solid and real?”

7. The Learning Question: “What Was Most Useful for You?”

Double loop learning

If the first loop is trying to fix a problem, the second loop is creating a learning moment about the issue at hand.

Your job as a manager and a leader is to help create the space for people to have those learning moments.

Daniel Kahneman… peak-end rule
How we’re evaluating an experience is disproportionately influenced by the peak (or the trough) of the experience and by the ending moments. Finish on a high note and you make everything that went before it look better.

Use Every Channel to Ask a Question

“Wow, there’s a lot going on here. What’s the real challenge here for you, do you think?”

“I’ve scanned your email. In a sentence or two, what do you want?”

“Before I jump into a longer reply, let me ask you: What’s the real challenge here for you?”