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Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Ask Open Questions - Not Closed Ones

I am making a stand against the Today programme on BBC Radio 4. If you listen to the interviewers just notice how frequently they ask a question starting with "Do you think.......?" and then inject their own opinion for the interviewee either to agree or not.

Typically (and this was this morning) the interviewer asked "Do you think that even though he (Barack Obama) is coming in bringing with him lots of hope, after three or four years he won't have fulfilled expectations etc" (This is a precis of a long question but the gist is there)

I was taught years ago that the best way to ask a question is by the "Who, Why, What, Where, When and How" method, none of which can be answered by a simple yes or no. Just notice when an interviewer asks a child a closed question starting with a verb (Do, did, have, will etc.) the child will almost always answer yes or no which usually leaves the interviewer flummoxed and wondering what to say next.

And by the way, the "do you think...." question is almost always negative just building up the gloom and doom for which Today is justly famous. Rant over - tune in to Terry Wogan instead.

For more information check out www.maa-uk.co.uk and www.vistage.co.uk.You can contact us at ivan@maa-uk.co.uk or at ivan.goldberg@vistage.co.uk

Thursday, 8 January 2009

What's All This Leadership Thing?

Fashionable business society goesthrough many phases. Talking to my friend David yesterday we decided that the lastest fashion in management-speak is Operations which is just another way of saying "How do we run the business and who does what?"

We have gone through many phases of fashion - marketing came and went, HR held its own for a while and Organisational Theory - now that is a big one.

They are all still there, of course, because they each form a part of the whole but in the end, they really must be brought together into a consistent whole so that the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. That takes leadership and it's about time that the need for genuine leaders in business is given maximum consideration.

So how do we find them and what characteristics must they show? I believe that it all starts with values. Any leader must know precisely his/her values and more importantly, articulate them on a regular basis. He/she must have vision, must have a dream and know where they are going. People need to know two things, How and I doing and Where Are WE Going? A leader must be able to tell everyone the answers. Above all he must be a listener rather than a speaker. Remember, LISTEN is an anagram of SILENT and keeping quiet can be the hardest thing in the world. However, if you do listen then you are more than likely to hear something to your advantage and in the final analysis, to the advantage of everyone.

For more information check out www.maa-uk.co.uk and www.vistage.co.uk.
You can contact us at ivan@maa-uk.co.uk or at ivan.goldberg@vistage.co.uk