“What do you mean, bring value?” Joan asked. “Sounds easy to say, but I don’t know what you mean. How does a manager bring value to the problem solving and decision making in the team?”
“Do you bring value by telling people what to do?” I asked.
Joan sat back, looking for the odd angle in the question. “No,” she replied.
“You and I are sitting here talking,” I nodded. “And in our conversation, am I directing you, telling you how to be a manager?”
Again, the answer was “No.”
“And would you say that our conversations are valuable, valuable to you, in your role, as a manager?”
Joan followed the nod. “Yes,” she said slowly.
“I am not telling you what to do, yet, am I bringing value to the conversation?” I could see Joan making a leap in her mind to follow. “How am I doing that? If I am not telling you what to do, what kinds of sentences am I using?”
“Questions,” she responded. “You are not telling me what to do. You are asking questions and listening. And your questions are bringing value to the decisions I have to make and the problems I have to solve.”