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Two Questions Worth Asking

September 20, 2022

As a business leader, I am always looking to gain insights from people who are further along on their professional journey than I.

The same is true of fathers. Now that I have children of my own, I love to have conversations with dads who I respect and admire who have been in this role longer than I have. One of these men is Larry Grays. He has four children, and his two oldest are in high school. 

In a recent conversation, he shared with me that one of the best ways he has found to connect with his two oldest children is to ask them these two questions:

1. What do you need more from me?
2. What do you need less from me?

 He went on to explain that because his children are different, he never receives the same answer from them. One of them may need more quality time, while the other needs more encouragement. One of them may need less criticism, while the other needs more accountability.

Granted, these are not the right questions to ask my almost-two-year-old. However, they are amazing questions, not just for older children, but also for leaders. These questions are helpful because they are designed to allow someone to express their needs with the confidence that the person asking is there to help, support, and care for them. 

So ask the people on your team: What do you need more from me? What do you need less from me?

I need more specific direction. More affirmation that I am doing this job the right way. More context about why we do things the way we do.

I need less micro-management. Fewer constraints on my schedule. More freedom in decision-making.

The answers to these questions provide a wealth of insight about how others are processing their role, their present workload, and the culture of your company. But the content of their answers should not always dictate how you respond. It’s not your responsibility to give the people on your team exactly what they want every single time they ask. However, it is your job to provide them what they need

They may want less detailed direction, but you may need to keep over-communicating until they are consistently accomplishing the things required of them. They may want more freedom in decision-making, but they may need more time to master certain aspects of their role. 

We always benefit from knowing what our team members, spouses, children, and friends are thinking. 

The greater our insight, the greater our ability to care and support them in the ways they need most. 


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