Sharp thinking

Top leaders adopt the Socratic method of falsification to encourage people to think more sharply and justify their points of view.

by European Business Forum
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

A good leader acts as the chief questioner, asking whether something that seems to be true may not be or whether something that seems untrue is true. Leaders must encourage people to ask questions and be unafraid to show doubt.

They can also drive new thinking by matching employees with interesting and knowledgeable individuals outside corporate walls. People must know that they are investigating something for a purpose, otherwise, the Socratic method of questioning could encourage them to second-guess one another, creating a negative back-stabbing culture.

Former IBM head Lou Gerstner used to encourage his staff to engage in simple conversations, and not waste time planning elaborate presentations.

The leader as Socrates,
Lynda Gratton,
European Business Forum, Issue 28, Spring 2007

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