I participated in the presentation of the book “Leadership” together with the entrepreneur and creator Ignas Staskevicius and I would often hear how co-authors would always emphasize the importance of asking and seeing “what is behind” but I would never concentrate too much on the significance of this question. This question caught my attention only when the student of ISM Leadership Program, who is the owner of the company, shared her idea that “this question has opened my eyes and turned my world view upside down”.
Hm… I also started to look at “what is behind”. And indeed – then a new dimension, that was hidden and unseen, appeared before my eyes.
The employee comes up with a suggestion how the company could win more money and in my mind I am asking “what is behind?” – does he want any benefit for himself? Or maybe he has a good intention to help the company?
Students ask for the opportunity to use their textbooks during exams. What is behind that? It is also interesting to share this question with those who initiate this requirement.
The opinion-maker invites to one more campaign. What is behind that? Perhaps he wants to connect with disadvantaged ones or maybe he has a desire to increase his influence, get more attention.
A person expresses his painful emotions on the internet. What is behind? A painful feeling of life injustice, loneliness?
It is difficult for a colleague to say “no”. What is behind? Unconscious desire to be important or maybe a fear to get into a conflict? The government wants to change alcohol bans. What is behind? You may know.
The desire to make fun of others shows how they do not know anything. What is behind that?
Over time while practicing “what is behind” I realized that “what is next?” is also a very important question, especially in leadership.
Let’s start with simple examples.
The teenager comes home late at night. What is behind that? Anxiety, fear. What is next? The relationship is destroyed for some time.
The manager proposes a new rule that every morning everybody should connect with video cameras and the employees are against that. What is behind that? Employees do not want to get up early in the morning and start the workday, get out of the comfort zone. What is next (if the manager will agree to do as employees want)? Lower efficiency and working capacity or in another case – serious and productive team.
A person is angry with his friend. What is behind? Frustration, discomfort, disconnection. What is next (if the person says what he feels)? A relationship may be destroyed, or the opposite may happen – the air will be cleaned and there will be a new beginning?
Desire to control employees. What is behind that? Unsafety, distrust. Painful life experiences. What is next (what does it create)? Employees are dissatisfied, stagnation.
An idea to have a beach in Lukiskes square. What is behind that? Attempt to mobilize the followers. What is next?
All our actions have consequences that contribute to something better or worse. If the employee does not have to think “what is after”, then the manager, especially the leader, must think about the consequences of any important decision or action. If I fire the employee – what will happen after? What will be not the action but its impact on the company? If I tell the employee what do I think about him, what will happen after? If I allow my employees to make an impact on decisions, what will happen after? What consequences will my decisions have? These consequences may influence the person, team, organization and society.
The leader is the one, who can see behind.
Dr. Alisa Miniotaitė is a management and leadership expert, founder of UAB ALISA MANAGEMENT LABORATORY, ISM University of Management and Economics, Leadership Program Manager