Dave Kier: Leadership Tip: The Inquisitive Leader

IBEC board member, Dave Kier is a regular writer of a daily devotional and also Leadership Tips.  His wealth of experience as a successful businessman and an investor in agriculture in Africa for the glory of God give him immense wisdom.

Larry W. Sharp, BAM Support Specialist, IBEC Ventures

There is an affliction of many in the workplace. This affliction is common throughout cultures, however, more dominant in some. This affliction holds individuals and the organization back, preventing them from realizing their potential. The cure for this affliction seems to quite easy to administer and is highly effective, but too many are hesitant to take it, but once taken, a floodgate opens up the potential of the person and the organization. Why don’t all take advantage of this cure? For some, it’s pride, for others, it’s laziness, and for others, it’s thinking they are too weak if they take it.

I hired many leaders over my career and found too many unwilling to learn from me or others who brought the company to the place where we needed their skills. One was so arrogant that he was completely unteachable as he knew far more than I or the others who had been working there for years. He didn’t last long. Another seemed to be interested in what was making us successful but asked few questions. It was as if he thought he had to relearn everything. He didn’t last either. Are you noticing the affliction? It’s the unwillingness to ask questions, questions that once answered would make the person more successful in his or her career.

All too often a person is given a responsibility, given the basics of how to best fulfill the role, and then proceeds as if he or she understood all that was required. Even when they stumble, they will not go back and ask for advice. Even when they keep stumbling, they refuse to seek out help. Eventually, these fail at their responsibilities.

I hired a man to help me lead the company as the CEO. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. I am not good at negotiating with lenders or writing contracts with producers, besides, I was desiring to spend more time doing missional work. The first day he joined the company, he came into my office and said, “I want to learn everything you know that enabled you to build this company”. He stayed by my side for weeks. If he ran into a problem, he asked my advice. We had a great relationship, and he did the company a lot of good, but he was unusual.

If you are hired to be a leader, there is no way you will have a complete grasp of your responsibilities and how to fulfill them during an orientation that lasts an hour or so. You must not feel inadequate if you need to ask questions. The inadequate one is the one who will not ask how to do what is expected of him/her. I always told new leaders that if I find myself going to them to offer advice rather than them coming to me to ask my advice, the message sent to me is they are not eager learners.

Advice comes from different sources. The best is from those who walked before you. Another is reading.  It has been well noted that successful leaders are avid readers. As followers of Jesus, we know we are told to “study” the scriptures. We are to search the written word of God. We are to go to the Lord asking for wisdom. Asking questions should not be foreign to a child of God.

Want to be successful in life? Learn to learn. Learn to ask questions. Ask until you fully understand your responsibilities, and then get on with applying as you learn. By the way – you never stop learning so never stop asking and studying.

Teach me your decrees, O LORD; I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart. Psalm 119:33-34 NLT®

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