Assume, Ask, or Affirm – Which Approach Works?

Many leaders have either one of three approaches to influence people to perform certain behaviors.

They either Assume, Ask, or Affirm. And based on how they use these can yield a variety of differing results from their people.

Approaches that Assume will either:

  • Assume ill intent or poor performance
  • Observe without all the facts
  • Believe once told the training is complete
  • Can be presumptuous
  • Closely associate with top-down, “do as I tell you” managing styles
  • Deter trust form your people
  • Alienate engagement and connection

Some creative ways to use Positive Assumption:

  • Assume good intent
  • Trust people want to generally do a good job
  • Know that people are willing to learn and grow
  • Believe your people want to share the vision

Asking approaches vary in these ways:

  • Asking to find fault
  • Coupling with a condescending or condemning tone
  • Impersonal if phrased incorrectly
  • Puts people on the defensive
  • Hides true motives of the question

An effective leader Asks in these ways:

  • Prefaces questions with reasons and transparency
  • Asks as a favor, not a command
  • Inquires for understanding and facts, not dirt
  • Asks to fill a need, not carry out a duty

The Affirming leadership approach has these challenges:

  • Being too nice and not talking straight
  • Leading people to not face reality of course correction
  • Can give false sense of security and lead to complacency for entire teams and organizations

It’s best to couple the Affirming approach in the following ways:

  • Trusting in the right values and vision that align with the core
  • Believing in the skills and abilities of the individual(s)
  • Confirm shared vision and goals
  • Recognize clear understanding so all parties on the same page
  • Lead others to the feeling of accomplishment during the process

While there are many camps that prefer one way or the other, it all comes down to approach and dynamics from the leader. Any style, managed poorly, can have an adverse effect. But with the right understanding of your people and how to influence up, you can use virtually any approach to a positive effect while keeping intact the mutual respect and drive for your teams.

 

(image: pixaby)

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About Paul LaRue

My goal - To encourage you to lead & influence others with positive impact.

Posted on October.9.2017, in Communication, Connection & Engagement, Leadership Development, Leadership Strategies. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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