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Why Bosses Shouldn't Always Give Employees Answers

Vivian Giang

Senior leaders have a lot of responsibilities, so it's easier for managers to give orders rather than wait for their subordinates to come up with their own answers. 

Once we reach this level of confidence, our unwillingness to listen to others will eventually stop them from wanting to speak up, so instead, they continue to seek their boss' opinions for answers instead of thinking of solutions on their own.

This might make the leader feel great about themselves for awhile, but the growth of your employees is needed for the success of the organization. 

In his  book " The Pause Principle ," Kevin Cashman said that this way of running an organization will stunt its growth. Instead, when leaders deal  with a maturing team, they should give members of that group the opportunity to think things through on their own. This involves listening to their strategy and seeing how they collaborate and resolve conflict. 

"Pause a bit longer to let groups struggle and strain more as they explore ideas, options, and deeper solutions," he wrote. 

If you always have the answers, you're "unintentionally creating dependency, stunting the growth of others, and sacrificing transformative breakthroughs."

This leadership skill requires the ability to master authentic listening, which is not the same as waiting for the other person to stop speaking.  Unfortunately, those who need to listen most — the ones who can make the most difference — are also the poorest listeners. 

"When we see ourselves as the quintessential expert, the most experienced or accurate person in the room, we position ourselves to fall into a listening black hole," Cashman said.

The author mentions a study published in the journal "Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Process," that said new leaders in organizations fail within 18 months because they can't listen.

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