By Dennis McIntee

When I work with leaders, I always ask them if they use their MBA every day when they go to work.

A good bit of the time, I’ll get a confused look in return. “That question doesn’t apply to me, Dennis. I don’t have an MBA.” You might be thinking the same thing, but stick with me. When I ask this question, I’m referring to a different MBA. I’m referring to Management By Asking — your MBA.

The main principle to remember to make sure you’re fully utilizing your MBA is this:

In any organization, questions should go down, and answers should come up — not the other way around. If you consistently tell your team what to do, the responsibility never flows down and will always fall back on you.

Here’s how it plays out: You tell your team to do something and they go do it. But then when things crash and burn or they don’t achieve a great outcome, they come back to you and say, “Well, I did what you said, and it didn’t work. Now what are we going to do?” They feel no level of accountability or ownership. They have no desire to think for themselves and they expect you to fix the problem.

That’s your sign that it’s time to use your MBA. Instead of allowing all of the responsibility to be shifted back to you, start asking questions to help your team take ownership and think for themselves. Questions like: “In light of those results, what do you think we should do now?” or, “How do you think we can solve that problem and keep moving forward?”

As a leader, the questions you ask are some of the most important tools that you have at your disposal. That’s why Management By Asking is so important. When you and I use our MBAs, we inspire our team members to start thinking for themselves. We invite them to be part of finding solutions so they feel ownership of what they are doing and accountability for the results they produce. Asking great questions allows delegation to actually happen and it shows the people on our teams that we actually believe in their ideas and their ability to create great outcomes. As a result, the team will be more productive and nothing fuels people to keep doing great work than seeing progress. Everybody wins. Stop telling and start asking today and see just how far your MBA can take you!

Need a tool to help you get started? You can download our free Coaching Questions Toolkit here.