Drill It Down? Or Teach It Up?


Peter Block, the author of Stewardship, likes to say that the language of business is the language of engineering.

That is, it’s not particular human.

For example, he talks about how

Senior Management wants to drill this mission down to the front lines. Yet, when’s the last time you heard a front line employee say, “Gee, Senior Management hasn’t drilled anything into me lately.  I really miss that!”

We’re all in the influence, motivation and persuasion business.  And we’re working with sensitive, emotionally aware human beings.  We’re not tools to be right-sized and re-engineered.

Which brings us to today’s question:  What’s the best way to confirm that someone’s “Got it”?  That is, they understand your message and has the ability to act accordingly.   And, how do you so in a way that isn’t patronizingly drilling down into them?

I was working on a large training session last week.  I had 6 support facilitators assisting me in the session.  They all various levels of experience and ability.

There were a couple of parts of the training where I was concerned that not all 6 could deliver it well.  In our presession meeting, rather than lecture at them, and tell them what they were supposed to do, I asked the team lead me in a review.

As someone would lead a section, I’d ask, “Are there any other ways anyone else could see doing this?”, and then facilitated a discussion where the team provided the answers and the expertise.  It didn’t have to come from me.

I framed our discussion with the context of “Just so we’re all learning from each other and sharing the best practices out there, let’s review the training content.”

Now, I have to admit, there were points where I jumped in with my own ideas of what should be done.  But I wasn’t the sole driver of it all.

Instead of driving with “Teach/Tell”, I drove with “Inquire/Discuss”.

Some might think this is nit-picking.  They might say, “After all the content is generally the same.”

But it isn’t the same.

Same road, different journey.

As leaders, we’re accountable that results are achieved.  But they don’t have to be achieved by us.

Leadership doesn’t mean that you have to be in the driver’s seat every mile.

Enjoy letting others take the wheel.

It’ll free  you up to do things other than always drive.

(Not to mention the joy that someone else gets in stepping up with more influence and authority.)

Where can you teach it up, rather than drill it down?




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