Once a quarter, the entire Steelhead team goes back to school and reads the same book as part of our Leaders Are Readers program. It’s our own little book club, and the idea is to stoke curiosity and reexamine how we work.
The most recent book we tackled was Edgar H. Schein’s Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling, which is 138 pages on the art of communication and how it can be used to create big ideas and avoid colossal mistakes.
Schein is Professor Emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has also penned books on consulting, leadership, and surviving corporate culture. In other words, he’s got a really big brain, and Humble Inquiry had us thinking hard on how we communicate — both good and bad.
Here’s what two of our marketing managers, Andrew Childers and Liz Martinez, had to say about what they learned from the book.
Andrew: The book does a great job of reminding us to take a step back and observe, whether we’re doing a bunch of talking or genuinely engaging others.
Often, we do a lot of talking as a means to boost our egos. But a simple question can level power dynamics between people, refocus energies on accomplishing a task at hand rather than inflating egos, and ultimately activate the genius in everyone involved.
Liz: It’s always important to listen intently before speaking. Want to help someone? You need to invest your time and learn more about them, which means asking purposeful questions.
Application to Your Own Life
Andrew: Thanks to the book, I’ll stop to notice when I’m talking just to hear myself out. Instead, I’m going to ask a question with curiosity knowing that I can tap the brilliance of the people around me simply by asking rather than telling.
Liz: I like to think I already use the lessons from the book in my professional life, but to be honest, I need to implement it more in my personal relationships.
Applying It to Work in 2020
Andrew: Going into next year, the book is going to serve as a practical guide to employing the wisdom of “seek first to understand, then to be understood” in the way I approach work and client problems.
Liz: Everything we’ve learned from the book is going to help my team drill down to the things they really need versus what they may have thought they wanted or needed. It’s also going to help us keep the lines of communication going — among ourselves and with clients.
You can get Edgar H. Schein’s Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling at Amazon or wherever else you buy books. You can also check out our free resource The Exhibitor’s Guide To Trade Show Success In 2020 by hitting this link.