Managers, especially general counsel, should ask information-seeking questions and listen more

Rotman Mag., Spring 2011 at 84, describes research by Haygreeva Rao, a Stanford professor of organizational behavior. Rao places much importance on the number of statements bosses make in meetings versus the number of questions they ask. “He argues that letting others speak and asking questions – real questions, not statements dressed up as questions – are powerful ways to encourage collaboration and creativity in your employees.”

To grasp this personally, a general counsel might bring someone to meetings to count and calculate the ratio of the GCs questions asked to statements made, as well as the ratio of time spent talking to time spent listening. The article suggests that you guess the results before the data comes back as that will provide a nice test of the accuracy of your self-awareness (See my post of Feb. 1, 2006: how to reduce the chilling effect of a dominant personality or position; Dec. 8, 2006: a GC’s chilling effect; Jan. 9, 2009: ideas are suppressed around a general counsel; and May 25, 2010: sense of futility, not fear of reprisal, silences employees.).

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