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How to Get Your Team Thinking for Themselves

“Why does my team always come to me for the answers?”


If you ever find yourself saying these words or thinking these thoughts, this video and blog is for you.

I’m going to explain the surprising truth about why this happens and, more importantly, a simple tactic for getting your team to be the independent, proactive group of people you dream of leading.

Read on!


Shifting Your Approach: From Manager to Leader Coach


One of the keys to encouraging your team to be more proactive and solutions-oriented is to shift your approach from being just a manager to becoming more of a leader coach.

Typically, in the workplace, when someone in our team comes to us with a challenge seeking support, our default reaction is to tell them what to do and how to do it.

This reaction happens for several reasons.

Perhaps we’re in a rush and want to solve their challenge quickly so we can return to our own tasks.

Or we could have done their job before and know how to solve the problem from our past experience. However, when we continually tell our team what to do, we inadvertently train them to always come to us for answers.

It’s similar to Pavlov’s experiment, where he conditioned dogs to come to a bowl whenever he rang a bell. If we tell our team what to do each time, we’re conditioning them to seek us out for solutions.


Coaching Questions: Investing in Your Team’s Development

The solution lies in investing a bit more time to ask coaching questions.

When someone comes to you for help, instead of providing immediate answers, pause and say, “Grab a chair for 5 minutes,” or “Let’s dive into the meeting room for a quick chat.”

Then, ask questions like:

– “What options do you think you have?”

– “What are the pros and cons of those options?”

– “If there was a third option, what would it be?”

By asking these simple questions, which constitute a coaching approach, you’re helping your team think through their challenges. Initially, you might spend 5 to 10 minutes on these conversations, but gradually, these discussions will start to change.


Transforming Conversations Over Time

In a few weeks, instead of “Hey, I have this problem. What should I do?” you’ll hear, “I’m thinking about doing this. Do you think I’ve missed anything?”

A few more weeks, and it’ll shift to, “I had this challenge; this is what I’m going to do. Just letting you know.”

Eventually, during your weekly catch-ups, your team will say, “By the way, this happened earlier in the week, and I took care of it.”

At this point, your team will be proactive, not approaching you with problems but informing you of the solutions they have already implemented.

You’ll have an autonomous team thinking for themselves and gain valuable time back in your schedule.

This is the epitome of leadership success.


Leadership Development Training

If you’re an MD, HR Director, or Head of Learning and Development thinking about investing in leadership and management training, contact me at to set up a free exploratory call.

I’m looking forward to chatting with you soon.

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