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How do you improve your “executive presence”? Balance inquiries and inquiries

Most of us sometimes struggle with knowing when to talk and when not to. When to share a point of view, when to ask a question, or when to just listen.

If you’ve never struggled with this question yourself, there’s a good chance that people around you will hope so! Think about your experiences in meetings, in the boardroom, or even just catching up around the water cooler. Sure, there are people you’d like to talk more about and share their thoughts… as well as people you think should let someone else have a say.

Knowing when to speak up and when not to speak has a lot to do with effective interpersonal style and the often quoted concept of “executive presence”.

Most managers in today’s companies have had years of problem-solving training. Some have learned how to push hard for their opinions and will not hesitate to express their opinions quickly. Some prefer to withdraw into silence to handle things calmly; They may need some time to think and analyze before speaking.

But as we take on more responsibility in organizations, we must deal with more complex situations where there isn’t necessarily a single right answer. Here, success requires getting a wide range of stakeholders, often with competing desires, to reach a mutually acceptable outcome. In these situations, the best results are achieved when we are able to collaboratively brainstorm ideas and work together to generate new insights.

The most effective people in these situations are those who can effectively balance the modes of advocacy and inquiry.

advocacy It relates to “telling,” and usually means pushing for a particular position, course of action, or set of principles. when we were Defending, We are trying to persuade or argue a point of view or conclusion. a questionon the other hand, relates to the “question”, and the point from inquire It is to understand the position of the other party, rather than seeking to immediately change opinions or opinions. (As St. Francis’ famous prayer put it, “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.”)

Most people have a natural preference for the calling or asking style: one or the other tends to be our “default.” Some of our stylistic choices may be based on education or profession: law and education often teach advocacy, while journalism and social work rely more on inquiry. Some researchers have suggested that in some situations men may be rewarded more for advocacy and women for inquiry. Other researchers have traced the patterns to cultural differences in different parts of the world. But whatever the reasons, it is generally observed that some people tend to ask more, while others tend to say more.

However, in most managerial and leadership roles, a conscious and thoughtful balance of advocacy and inquiry usually produces the best results and represents the most adaptive and successful leadership styles.

Start by asking yourself—honestly—what is your natural or preferred approach: the question or the answer. If you have doubts, ask your immediate subordinates, or better yet, your spouse or partner. If the reactions from others are such that you lean toward one style more than the other, make an active attempt to adopt the opposite style on a more frequent basis. If you feel the need to come to a conclusion, ask an open-ended question instead. And if you usually find yourself asking questions (either out loud or to yourself), try taking a stand and pushing for a result.

One way to better balance invitation and inquiry is to pause, suspend your own assumptions, and ask questions to understand what the other person thinks. “Before I share my point of view, I’d really like to understand how you see things.” (In these situations, the powerful “advocates” among us may have to work extra hard to bite our tongues and listen to the other side.) Once you’ve identified your reasons, encourage others to challenge them: “This is my thinking and here’s how I came to that conclusion. What does that look like for you?” What makes sense and what doesn’t make sense?” Of course, if you ask for a response, you should listen to it carefully and think about it before arguing against it.

As you work on the optimal balance of advocacy and inquiry, (recognizing that different situations call for different proportions of each) remember that there are also passive forms of both advocacy and inquiry. For example, some people may deflect the inquiry process by diligent questioning, without showing empathy for the person being questioned. Likewise, advocacy can feel oppressed if the advocate simply dictates her point of view, while refusing to participate in the thought process. It’s all about balance.

Here are some specific ideas and suggestions for improving your advocacy and inquiry skills:

Tips for improving advocacy

Make your thought process visible – or as a chemistry professor used to say, “Show your work!”

  • State your assumptions and describe the data that led to them. “That’s what I think and here’s how I got there.”
  • Make your thinking clear. “I came to this conclusion because…”
  • Explain the context of your point of view: who will be affected by what you are proposing, how they will be affected, and why.
  • Give examples of what you are proposing, even if they are hypothetical.

Openly test your conclusions and assumptions

  • Encourage others to explore your model, assumptions, and data. “What do you think of what I just said?” or “Do you see any flaws in my thinking?” or “What can you add?”
  • Refrain from getting defensive when your ideas are questioned. If you stand for something worthwhile, it will only become stronger by experiencing it.
  • Uncover the less obvious places in your thinking. Rather than making you weak, doing so takes away the power of the partisans who oppose you and calls for improvement. “Here’s one aspect you might help me think about….”
  • Even when invited, listen, keep an open mind, and encourage others to offer different points of view. “Do you see things differently?”

Tips for improving your inquiry

Ask others to reveal their thought processes

  • Gently walk with others down tinference ladder Find out what data they’re running from. “What leads you to conclude that?” “What data do you have to support that?” “What makes you say that?”
  • Use non-aggressive language: Ask in a way that doesn’t provoke defensiveness or “witness leads.” instead of “what do you mean?” or “What’s your evidence?” Ask, “Can you help me understand your reasoning here?”
  • elicit their logic; Find out as much as you can about why they say what they say. “What’s the point of that?” “How does this relate to your other fears?” “Where does your thinking go next?”
  • Explain the reasons for your inquiry and how your inquiry relates to your concerns, hopes, and needs. “I ask about your assumptions here because…”

Compare your assumptions with theirs

  • Test what they are saying by asking for broader contexts and examples. “How will your proposal affect…?” “Is this similar to…?” “Can you describe a typical example?”
  • Check that you understand what they said. “Am I right when you say…?”
  • Listen sincerely to the new understanding that may emerge. Don’t just focus on how to bring down the other person’s argument or promote your agenda.

How important is it to balance advocacy and inquiry styles as a manager or executive? Where have you seen leaders succeed or fail based on these skills? Do you have other insights or interesting experiences related to this topic? Email me – I’d love to hear about it.

Special thanks to Milly Acebal, Nadir Merchant, Andy Nordin, Omar Sabek, Jonas Samsio, and Matt Strain for their excellent contribution and partnership.

(tags to translation) Advocacy

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