Ebenezer Scrooge learned his lessons the hard way. It required a harrowing night of visits from three ghosts to set him on a better path. Mr. Scrooge took his ghostly apparitions’ messages to heart, and bought the big fat goose for the family of his poor, bedraggled employee Bob Cratchit. He also thought more about how he could catapult his newfound enthusiasm for helping others from the joyful festivities of late December into the cold, yet ever-hopeful newness of January. He promised to make Cratchit’s life at work more purpose-driven and well-defined, and committed to starting the New Year providing better clarity for his team. You should do the same by asking yourself these questions:
If I have learned one thing by working with people in organizations, it’s that there’s much more telling than asking going on. As a business coach, my clients will expect me to ask, at some point in their session, “So what’s the question?”
Technological advancements, competition, globalization, pressure for increased productivity and chasing dollars all contribute to heavy workloads and little free time. So when asked for help, leaders tend to give a quick answer and tell employees what to do. It’s just faster and easier.
Providing a quick answer is the right response when in the midst of a crisis that requires immediate action. But giving a quick answer doesn’t work best when trying to build the capabilities of staff. Employees and leaders get into a pattern of asking and telling. And while that can be frustrating for both, breaking away from that pattern is harder than one would think.
Charlene Espinoza greets everyone with warm eyes and a genuine smile. Confident, calm, and unflappable, she has traveled much of the world, exploring unfamiliar cultures. As a Peace Corps volunteer 3 1/2 years ago, Charlene was assigned to teach English to the young students of Salala, Liberia in West Africa. But teaching English soon became secondary to the passionate enterprise Charlene embarked upon with the young women of Salala. She started an organization called Bosh Bosh, a manufacturing company that creates beautiful fabric bags made from the multi-colored, quintessential African “lappa’ fabric. I was lucky enough to be invited to spend two weeks working with this remarkable organization in June of last summer. Here is the story of Bosh Bosh: