Don’t solve problems if you want to be a great manager.

To be a great manager, here are 16 questions you can start with instead of jumping in to solve the problem yourself:

  • What do you see as the underlying root cause of the problem?
  • What are the options, potential solutions, and courses of action you’re considering?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages to each course of action?
  • How would you define success in this scenario?
  • How do you know you will have been successful?
  • What would the worst possible case outcome be?
  • What’s the most likely outcome?
  • Which part of the issue or scenario seems most uncertain, befuddling, and difficult to predict?
  • What have you already tried?
  • What is your initial inclination for the path you should take?
  • Is there another solution that isn’t immediately apparent?
  • What’s at stake here, in this decision?
  • Is there an easier way to do what you suggested?
  • What would happen if you didn’t do anything at all?
  • Is this an either/or choice, or is there something you’re missing?
  • Is there anything you might be explaining away too quickly?

What you’ll notice when you ask these questions is that most employees already have an answer (or several answers!) to a given problem. But they were uncomfortable with it, or they were worried about getting it “wrong.”

Part of asking the questions isn’t just to help them think through the problem more clearly, but also to help them realize they know more than they think, they’re more capable than they think, and that they’ve mitigated the risks better than anticipated.

Your job as a leader isn’t to just help clarify thought process – but to give confidence in their thinking.

As Wade says, “You’re trying to just help them get to that realization that, ‘You know what to do.’”

After all, a great manager is centered on building the capabilities of their team, not their own capabilities

Don’t solve the problem, yourself.

How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Won the Cohen Hearing

Too many representatives chose to bloviate instead of interrogate — except for one.

But like so many congressional hearings, the fireworks were quick to flame out. Even with the tantalizing opportunity to grill Mr. Cohen on the myriad ways his former boss most likely sought to evade the law and avoid his creditors, many members of the committee, from both parties, could not resist their usual grandstanding.

Consider the line of questioning from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. She asked Mr. Cohen a series of specific questions about how Mr. Trump had handled insurance claims and whether he had provided accurate information to various companies. “To your knowledge,” she asked, “did Donald Trump ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?” He had.

She asked whether Mr. Trump had tried to reduce his local taxes by undervaluing his assets. Mr. Cohen confirmed that the president had also done that. “You deflate the value of the asset and then you put in a request to the tax department for a deduction,” Mr. Cohen said, explaining the practice. These were the sort of questions, and answers, the committee was supposed to elicit. Somehow, only the newer members got the memo.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez continued, asking, “Do you think we need to review financial statements and tax returns in order to compare them?” She pressed Mr. Cohen for the names of others who would be able to corroborate the testimony or provide documents to support the charges. In response, Mr. Cohen listed the executives

  • Allen Weisselberg,
  • Ron Lieberman and
  • Matthew Calamari

names that, thanks in part to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, we will probably hear more about in the coming months.

These questions were not random, but, rather, well thought out. Like a good prosecutor, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was establishing the factual basis for further committee investigation. She asked one question at a time, avoided long-winded speeches on why she was asking the question, and listened carefully to his answer, which gave her the basis for a follow-up inquiry. As a result, Mr. Cohen gave specific answers about Mr. Trump’s shady practices, along with a road map for how to find out more. Mr. Cohen began his testimony calling Mr. Trump a “con man and a cheat”; In just five minutes, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez actually helped him lay out the facts to substantiate those charges.

What to ask Matthew Whitaker

What is the constitutional basis for your appointment? If your appointment is valid, what is left of the advice and consent process?

Did you consult with the Justice Department’s ethics attorneys on your involvement in the Russia investigation, given your past representation of Sam Clovis and public statements about the investigation? What did they say? Did you recuse in whole or in part? If you didn’t, isn’t there a risk at the very least of the appearance of a conflict of interest?

What directions, if any, were you given about the Mueller investigation from the White House?

Is the investigation lawful and constitutional?

Are you aware of any misconduct by the special counsel? Is there any possible conflict of interest that has not been reviewed and dismissed by Justice Department ethics attorneys?

Do dozens of indictments or pleas and one conviction suggest the investigation is worthwhile? 

Is it appropriate for the president of the United States to direct the Justice Department to prosecute a political opponent, or to lay off a political ally?

Is it appropriate for the president of the United States to make an allegation of criminality (bugging Trump Tower) against his predecessor without any factual basis?

As chief of staff to former attorney general Jeff Sessions, did you ever witness attempts by the president to compel Sessions to violate his ethical obligations and take over the Russia investigation? If so, did you report this to anyone?

Can a president obstruct justice by offering to pardon someone in exchange for a “thing of value”? Can a “thing of value” be refusal to provide incriminating information to a prosecutor or to provide inside information about a prosecution?

Can a president obstruct justice by interfering with a Justice Department investigation of himself and/or his family?

Can a president obstruct justice by writing up a false statement to disguise the purpose of a meeting under investigation?

You get the idea. It sort of makes you wonder if Trump is going to leave Whitaker in place until January. On the other hand, any nominee for the “permanent” attorney general slot is going to have to answer most of these questions in a Senate confirmation hearing.

Krista Tippett and David Whyte on Becoming Wise

Krista Tippett, host of award-winning NPR program “On Being“, and poet David Whyte discusses several of the life-sized concepts addressed in Tippet’s book, _Becoming Wise: an inquiry into the mystery and art of living._

In 2014, Tippett received the National Humanities Medal at the White House for ‘thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence.’ Her radio program, On Being, “shines a light on the most extraordinary voices on the great questions of meaning for our time. Scientists in a variety of fields; theologians from an array of faiths; poets, activists, and many others have all opened themselves up to Tippett’s compassionate but searching conversation.” Whyte has been a guest on her show.

In _Becoming Wise_, Tippett distils the insights she has gleaned from years of luminous conversation into a coherent narrative journey, over time and from mind to mind, into what it means to be human. Critics say the book is “a master class in living, individually and collectively. Wisdom emerges through the raw materials of the every day.”

 

Quotes:

  • Beauty is that in which when in the presence of, we feel more alive.
  • Questions elicit answers in their likeness.
  • Poetry is language for which we have no defense.  (not facts)
  • Humor is a virtue.  It is a better way to live.  A more joyful way to live.
  • Have the courage to be vulnerable to those with whom we passionately disagree with.
  • We have an illusion that we can build a fortress where we are invulnerable.
  • Relationships (like marriage, children) inevitably involve heartbreak.
  • This “Can do” American spirit, that we’ll just power through and duke it out, won’t work.
  • Our education system encourages us to develop the quick premature answer, which robs us of our empathy
  • We are wired for empathy, but not when we’re fearful.
  • Virtues and Rituals are the spiritual technologies and muscle memory.
  • Growth comes from weaknesses gracefully expressed
  • You can’t really converse with anger.
  • Anger is what pain and fear look like when they show themselves in public
  • We don’t know how to dwell with human pain or fear.
  • We get so titillated about our machines getting intelligent, when we should be pursuing knowledge and wisdom for ourselves.
  • I would challenge the idea that we need to have common ground to have conversation (other than that we are human).
  • You don’t have to like people to extend hospitality.
  • Tolerance is too small a word.  Tolerance is a baby step towards pluralism.  Tenderness and Power, Fierceness can go together.
  • We are a developing nation. 
    • 1950s it was revolutionary to elect a Catholic.  We’ve only been at this for 60-70 years.
    • Tolerance is about enduring difference.
  • Kindness can feel wimpy, but kindness can be powerful and can make someone’s day.  Kindness is instant gratification on both sides.