How Can You Get More Focused Conversations When People Seek Your Input?

How Can You Get More Focused Conversations When People Seek Your Input?
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read
"Clarity is the Holy Grail of leadership."--Thomas Thompson


People want your input. People knock on your door, send an email, or schedule meetings to get input from you on this decision or that project.  


But when they are unclear about exactly what kind of input they are asking for, it creates 3 problems:

  1. You unintentionally give re-directional input.  Someone was asking for an opinion, but got a redirection.  This happens because a leader’s voice carries unintentional weight.  You say something at a 2, but they hear it at an 8.  I once had a staff person tell me, “When you give a suggestion, I know that really means an order.”  That wasn't my intention at all. But it happens because the input request was unclear. 

  1. You fail to develop the people under you.  If you are always the problem solver, when will the team member stretch and grow to solve problems? What you tolerate, you endorse. So if you are tolerating people always having you solve their problems, you are training them not to develop on their own.

  1. You waste time.  Many issues could be solved if a direct report took time to either solve them, or narrow the focus of the input.  Instead, they spend time preparing for meetings and conversations–and you waste your time in them.  


How can you get more focused conversations when people seek your input?


Have them clarify the kind of input they are looking for when they ask you a question. Use the following grid for them to walk through BEFORE they come to you. 


"What exactly do you need from me on this?"

  1. Do you need me to be a sounding board on this idea?

  1. Do you need my permission to proceed?

  1. Do you need me to give direction to this?

  1. Are you simply sharing this information for me to know? 

  1. Or do you need me to encourage you and celebrate this idea?


Before they reach out to you, have them walk through this grid. If they still need to meet with you, have them preface their request with what kind of input they need. For example, "I am stuck on two different candidates for this position and I could use you as a sounding board to talk it out." Or, "I don't need anything from you on this; I just want you to be aware of what action we are taking."


Walking through this grid may actually solve their issue.  If not, it will give you what you need to know how to answer what they need, and this will reduce meetings, shorten conversations, and save time.


Try this.  Discover how focusing input frees up space in your mind and on your schedule. I'd love to talk with you more about that. Shoot me an email and let's start bringing focus to your conversations.


Photo by Victor Barrios on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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