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

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Books for the weekend: Daniel Goleman, Jack Welch, Nelson Mandela

Beaverbrooks CEO Anna Blackburn shares her reading list.

What happens next: COVID-19 lessons from Italian CEOs

Part I: Marco Alvera, chief executive of €15bn Lombardy-based energy firm Snam, on living with...

Coronavirus communications: Dos and don'ts

Uncertainty and isolation make it more important than ever to be seen, to be heard...

Leadership lessons: Mervyn Davies, former CEO of Standard Chartered and trade minister

"People talk about pressure – I worked 24 hours a day. There is more pressure...

How to reinvent your career through motherhood and midlife

Pay it Forward podcast: Former Marie Claire editor-in-chief Trish Halpin and BITE managing editor Nicky...