There are three simple questions I ask. You might like to ask yourself the same questions.
The first question is:
“Can you write down The Six Steps to ……?“
You can use 4 or 5 steps – the number does not matter. So, for example, write down the six steps to coach effectively. Or, write down the five steps to manage conflict effectively. The response I usually get is:
- I don’t know the steps, or
- I don’t have a process, or
- I didn’t know there were any steps to follow
Often, people just make up some steps without any real knowledge of the subject. And, when challenged, they quickly admit their lack of knowledge.
The second question is:
“How did you learn to …..?“
Leaders often struggle to answer this until I help them. There is one answer that they usually agree with:
Osmosis is the word I choose to summarise their responses. And it is the biggest leadership failure in my experience. Many leaders admit that they have absorbed their knowledge from people around them and the leaders they worked with. They have done very little reading or research into leadership best practice.
My next question is:
“How good were those people at ……?“
I often get the same common response. Not good. Actually, pretty poor. And, sometimes, terrible!
How can you be good at something if you 1) absorbed it from people who are not very good at it, and 2) accepted that approach without doing any research.