Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 123 – Ask The Clarifying Question:

Dear leaders, there is something I learnt a few years ago that has always stuck with me, its a question to ask your team member (or mentee): 

“Do you need advice right now or do you need me to just listen?” 

Why is this important? 

Most people are engineered to get to a solution or an outcome, especially specific personality types, they are built for action. 

As humans we often don’t want solutions, we just want to talk it through. It is how we survived and evolved over time to stay in the tribe.  

I am a solution-driven person, when someone wants to vent to me or a colleague has a problem, my default was and often still is advice first. 

Very often this is a question I ask when someone wants to talk through something. It helps set me up and helps to frame the conversation.

A quick personal story: 

A former team member at most weekly check-ins or when we caught up (Adhoc – some of you remember not having full back-to-backs right) asked “the clarifying question”
– I am going to vent, I don’t need a solution, I want to talk it through and see if I am on the right path. 

These clarifying points were great for us and we would often get to a better place than my default action points and we would arrange check-in points or I’d have actions to get out of the way or where I needed to step in or step up to help them. 

I have recommended guiding department principles and leadership principles, and I would recommend adding this question as a principle. 

Hint: Gaining and providing clarity has to be a key role of a manager or business lead and clarifying questions should be stored and used regularly. Repetition is key! 

Tip – Remove Venting: 

One thing I make sure of is venting actually doesn’t help anyone, it might feel better but unloading can often impact both parties and can suck introverts and ambiverts energy quickly, being able to reframe to a discussion quickly and reduce venting to a discussion will help to preserve energy and make this interaction actionable.

Have a great week and I trust this helps you and your team. 


Danny Denhard