The Four Most Important Words in Any Organization

Posted on by in Attitude, Business, Communication, Creativity/Innovation, Leadership, Learning, Managing Talent, Relationships, Strategy

If you were to make a list of the four most important words in your business or organization, what would they be?

  • Would they be your core values (for ex. respect, responsibility, honesty and service)?
  • Would they be a phrase (for ex. “Make it so, #1” in deference to Capt. Jean Luc Picard of Start Trek: The Next Generation fame)?
  • Would they be actions (for ex. Farm, Call, Convert, Upsell)?
  • Or would they be something else?

It’s an interesting question. If you were to narrow down your business philosophy to just four words, what would they be?

Well, last evening I was perusing Tom Peter’s website and downloaded one of his Power Point ® Presentations (which are free, by the way). As I was reading through a recent speech he gave for Inc. I came across this one slide that simply said,

The four most important words in any organization are, “What do you think?”

I love that!

Note: this was a line from a comment posted on his blog at from a guy named Dave Wheeler.

But the reason why I love this slide is because I love the simplicity and power contained in those four simple words, “What do you think?” Having observed and consulted with enough businesses and organizations, I would concur that those four words could/can literally change a company.

As leaders, we so often get stuck in the “It’s my job to have all the answers,” or “It’s my job to come up with solutions to problems,” etc. that we forget that our primary job as leaders is not to have all the answers or to tell everyone the answers, but to leverage the time, talent, resources and INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY of the people in our organization/business to achieve some kind of results.

Even more, when we ask, “What do you think?” what we’re doing is so much more than just asking a question. For example, when you ask your people, “What do you think?”

  1. You’re giving your people respect (I value what you have to say, which is why I’ve asked you)
  2. You’re training your people to be solutions creators (I want you to help solve this so you can do this in the future)
  3. You’re bringing new ideas into the mix (not giving in to your own biases and prejudices)
  4. You’re creating buy-in (since people tend to own what they help create)
  5. And you’re creating relational capital.

At every juncture, you win as a leader just by remembering to ask, EVERY DAY, “What do you think?

I think Dave is right on. These could easily be the four most important words in any organization.

So … What do you think?

To your accelerated success,

P.S. Either today or tomorrow (depending on when you’re reading this), make it a goal to ask at least FIVE people, “What do you think?” Then do the same thing the next day, and the next day and the next day after that as well.

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