The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 46

MANAGEMENT INSIGHT

Why Good Questions Are
Better Than Right Answers
By Francesca Gino

F

or more than a decade, I studied
rebel leaders in organizations
around the world: in high-end
boutiques in Italy's fashion
capital, at the World's Best Restaurant,
at a popular fast-food chain and at an
award-winning computer animation
studio, to name a few. Rebel leaders
break the mold, but constructively.
When rules hold them and others
back, they break them and produce
positive results. By definition, these
leaders are all very different, but they
have common impulses: They intuit
that employees need to feel engaged
by their work to perform well and that
engagement comes from freedom.
That includes having the freedom to
speak up and be heard. Because of this,
some of the most successful rebel leaders are, paradoxically, the quietest.
What do I mean by that? Consider that
when CEOs take the helm of a struggling company, they're often expected
to communicate their vision right from
the start: to make clear they're in charge,
reveal a bold strategy for turning things
around, and delegate.
In general, CEOs are expected to field
others' questions, not spend time asking
others how they can be most helpful. But
my own lab and field research has led
me to conclude the opposite: Leaders
typically succeed because, right from the
start, they listened rather than talked.
Take the story of Greg Dyke, who took
the helm of the British Broadcasting
Corp. (BBC) during a critical time in
46

the late 1990s. The marketplace was
changing rapidly, but the BBC had
failed to adapt. Employees were frustrated, and the quality of BBC content
was suffering.
Dyke, who overlapped with his
predecessor, John Birt, by five months,
developed an unconventional transition plan. As compared to Birt, a
top-down leader who worked out of
the BBC's London headquarters, Dyke
crisscrossed the United Kingdom, from
Wales to Northern Ireland to Scotland,
visiting even the most remote BBC
offices. At each stop, he would meet
with the entire staff and, rather than
deliver a speech outlining his vision,
ask a simple question: "What one thing
should I do to make things better for
you?" Dyke would listen carefully, then
ask a follow-up question: "What one
thing should I do to make things better
for our viewers and listeners?"
Through the process of asking these
questions and chatting with staff in the
cafeteria, Dyke learned that they were
tired of top-down changes. Feeling
unmotivated and disempowered, they
complained the BBC had lost its
creative edge and that the facilities
were outdated.
After taking the helm of the BBC,
Dyke kept listening. To try to shift
the BBC toward innovative risk-taking,
he distributed yellow "penalty cards,"
like those used by soccer referees.
When employees heard or saw someone trying to block a good idea, they

were supposed to "cut the crap" by
waving a card in the air and making
their case.
Dyke's unconventional approach
worked. A year later, ratings and audience satisfaction were rising. Spending
on overhead had decreased, even as the
organization invested in new content
and upgrades. The employees felt proud
to work for the BBC once more and felt
committed to its vision.
Leaders are often afraid to ask
questions, as they assume that others
will believe they're unqualified and
lacking in vision. My research shows
the opposite: When we ask questions,
we signal that we're interested in
what other people are thinking; this
strengthens our relationships and their
trust in us. In fact, when we ask questions, people even think we're smarter
and more competent as compared to
when we don't.
In today's world, where everyone
suddenly seems to be an expert on
everything, asking questions is a
rebellious act. Rebel leaders don't
hesitate to ask for help and opinions.
In fact, the higher your position in
the hierarchy, the more you - and
your organization - stand to gain
from asking questions.
Francesca Gino is a professor of business
administration at Harvard Business
School, and was a keynote at NAFCU's
2018 CEOs and Senior Executives Conference (www.nafcu.org/executive).
THE NAFCU JOURNAL  MAY-JUNE 2019


http://www.nafcu.org/executive

The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019

The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019
Contents
Conferences
From the Chair
Washington and Industry Briefs
The Bottom Line
Welcome, New Members
Knowledge Is Power Credit unions leverage data and analytics for strategic business growth.
Lowering the High Cost of Internal Fraud Policies, culture and training work together to improve fraud detection and prevention.
2019 Annual Conference Exhibitor Directory
Executive Spotlight
Management Insight
Compliance Central
Inside NAFCU Services
From the President’s Desk
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - Cover2
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - Contents
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 2
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - Conferences
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - From the Chair
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 5
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - Washington and Industry Briefs
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 7
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - The Bottom Line
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 9
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 10
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 11
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - Welcome, New Members
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 13
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 14
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 15
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 16
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 17
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - Knowledge Is Power Credit unions leverage data and analytics for strategic business growth.
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 19
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 20
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 21
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 22
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 23
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 24
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 25
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - Lowering the High Cost of Internal Fraud Policies, culture and training work together to improve fraud detection and prevention.
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 27
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 28
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 29
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 30
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 31
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 32
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 33
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 34
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 2019 Annual Conference Exhibitor Directory
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 36
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 37
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 38
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 39
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 40
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 41
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - Executive Spotlight
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 43
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 44
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 45
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - Management Insight
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 47
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - Compliance Central
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 49
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - Inside NAFCU Services
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - 51
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - From the President’s Desk
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - Cover3
The NAFCU Journal May - June 2019 - Cover4
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