The following excerpt is from More Time To Think by Nancy Kline … as you read think about this through the lens of how you handle your direct reports and their questions and challenges.


Lanz came into my office, sweating. “I have got to figure out a reply to this,” he said, handing me an email. I read it. Instantly I had at least three very smart, certain-to-work, assertive things he could, should, say in his answer. The temptation was fierce to tell him what to do. Wouldn’t it save time and speed things up? And after all, he had come to my office for help. But that was the point. He had come to me for help.

I handed the email back to him. “What do you think you should do?” I asked him.

“Don’t you have any ideas?” he asked me back, addicted as most people are, to getting ideas from others, convinced through years and years of life that someone else, especially someone more senior, can think better than they can.

“Sure, I have some ideas,” I said. “But you probably have better ones, and we need the best. So you tell me what you think first.”

“…I really need to figure out what to say to these guys if they want to make me an offer for the property. If the offer is good enough, I might want to say yes. But how will I know what good enough is?”

I absolutely knew the answer to that one. And I figured this was Lanz’s biggest challenge. But I kept my Attention strong. I might be wrong, I remembered, Doubtful, but stranger things have happened. I was just barely holding onto the principle that the brain that generates the question usually generates the best answer.

I had so many ideas for him I was exhausted bopping them all on the head. But he did not beg me for them, and so I kept quiet and continued to be interested in what he would say next.

“Nope”, he said with a snap, “… I don’t need to figure out what they might say and how I will respond. I need to figure out what I want and propose that first.”

I smiled. He smiled. “Well”, he said, “what do you know? Never thought I’d end up here. I feel great. And I want to go off and figure out now what I do want to do with this property. Hey, thanks. That was amazing, Thanks for the ideas.”

And he left. From reactive to proactive, victim to in-charge in under five minutes. I had said nothing. Not one idea had come from me and yet he gave me all the credit. My Attention had done it.

As I re-read through the responses in the Content You Want survey, a few of the top topics that interest most managers and leaders is employee engagement, self-leadership and coaching.

As I read the above passage in Nancy Kline’s MORE TIME TO THINK, it struck me that this is a great case study in engagement, self-leadership and coaching.

Starting with attention! 

It’s at this point I could prattle on with insights and ideas but let’s put this into practice.

From reading the above excerpt, what lessons, insights or ideas are ignited for you?