Transform Your Team With This Ancient (but Powerful) Leadership Method

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Leadership — a dynamic, hard-to-tame beast that we all have to deal with. Do we agree? How would you feel if I said that there is some form of Greek secret from ancient times that is just lying around our nose and maybe around the corner? This could change the way we manage, solve problems and work as a team. This is the Socratic leadership method.

It’s not just another buzzword that I talk about during networking events. It is just the easiest way out, and I am here to shed light on genuine entrepreneurship tactics.

Picture this: The discussion, talkback, and insights that come with critical thinking not only stimulate the mind but also provide the fertile ground on which ideas grow like flowers in spring. This approach is as old as Socrates, a man who could be considered the creator of the “thinking outside the box” concept.

However, the issue is, can ancient approaches be applied to the modern workplace? Hang on to your seats! In a few seconds, you will know how to use the Socratic method like a lightsaber of wisdom that will be used to cut through problems and boost your team’s abilities.

Related: 7 Timeless Principles That Will Help You Become a Better Leader

1. Begin by asking thorny questions

The basis on which the Socratic method is built is the question — not common questions, but those that do not follow your mental patterns and, therefore, enhance your understanding of the world. Your meetings can entail queries like ”What are we assuming?” or ”How can we see this issue from another perspective?” These questions are not simple ones, but they provoke the brain.

2. Encourage a curious culture

As a team leader, you have to motivate them to challenge every objectivity throughout the process. Clearly, this rule is not to become a scene out of “The Inquisition,” where people are self-appointed judges. It is to create a culture where questions are to be seen as a tool for improvement rather than a challenge to power. When your squad understands that ”why” and ”how” questions are the key to success, they will uncover the hidden bundle of new ideas.

3. Encourage dialogue

The fact that the Socratic method is based on dialogue — a conversation that is deeper than just socializing but includes ones in which information is exchanged and new ideas emerge — makes it even more intriguing. This way, long speeches become rare, and the break room becomes a place full of life, where the dialogue is as free as the coffee. Encourage the team members to think out loud, give a proper hearing and touch on each other’s points.

4. Embrace the discomfort

Let’s be real: Confronting established opinions is equivalent to facing the challenge of walking barefoot on the hot sand. Though this might be unsettling, this is when the growth occurs. Support your team in the process of accepting not knowing every answer. In such stressful situations, the students are in the process of sharpening their analytical skills, and the powers of quick reasoning appear on the scene.

5. The art of active listening

Socrates’ secret is a form of creative listening. Communication is much more than simply listening to what is being said; rather, it is understanding the additional meaning that is being implied as well. Succeed in active listening by paraphrasing the main points that were mentioned, asking for clarity and letting the other person know that you are actually interested in her/his opinions. This affords a platform for trusting and new perspectives are thus initiated.

Related: This Important Leadership Skill Isn’t Hard to Master, But Most Don’t Do It

6. Question the question

The solution to a problem can even be found in the very questions that describe it. Ask your team if they are asking the right questions. Meta-thinking at this level can easily reveal assumptions that may lead to revolutionary thinking.

7. Encourage empathy

The Socratic Method is not just an intellectual exercise but a human one. Empathy in your discussions will make your team more understanding of other approaches, and as a result, it will create a more social and innovative workplace. When team members understand one another better, the solutions become broader and more effective.

8. Shout out the “a-ha” moments

Make sure you mark when the team makes breakthroughs by doing something outstanding. These wins are proof that the Socratic discussion is the tool you need to develop your team more and more.

9. Iterate and reflect

The Socratic method is not a plug-and-play; instead, it is a continuous improvement process. Every dialogue has to end with you taking some time to think about what you have learned and how you can apply it. By doing so, you are able to keep your leadership approach alive and your teamwork successful.

10. Lead by example

You, as the leader, are the first to apply the Socratic method, and the rest of the team will follow your example. Practice what you preach by critiquing yourself, identifying with others intuitively and building a space for exploration and critical thinking. When your employees see you as a role model who leads by example, they are more likely to do the same.

Related: No Backseat Driving: How Leading by Example Sets the Pace for Success in Your Business

The Socratic method for leadership should not be considered merely as a high and mighty concept, but as a practical set of tools that gives birth to innovations, helps in problem-solving and enhances communication with the team at a deeper level as well. With this strategy, you become the mentor and the change maker, turning the workplace into the cradle of creativity and critical thinking.

So, the next time you face a leadership challenge, remember: A question can be an effective tool. Be careful with it, and appreciate the team’s achievements because your team will reach new heights of creativity and involvement. In this connection, as Socrates once said, “I cannot teach anybody anything; all I can do is make them think.”

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