Momentum Podcast: 363

One Simple Question To Empower Your Team

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

One of the easiest ways to empower your team, have them ask you fewer questions and start to get them accustomed to solving things in the business without your direct involvement is to ask them when they come to you with a problem “What would you do?”. That's it. Listen, coach success, get leveraged results and you will have a team who can think for themselves.

Full Audio Transcript

Alex Charfen: Most entrepreneurs are terrible managers, and we know it. We're not good at managing people. In fact, most of us have tried and we failed miserably. Part of the reason is that we always want to have the answer. If you're willing to stop having the answer and let your team fill in instead, you will be shocked at how empowered they can be and just how much they can get done.

I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how.

While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority. The few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future, and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters. Clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent positive human evolution and we always will be.

Here's the challenge for us as entrepreneurs. We have a bias towards getting things done, towards checking the box, towards making things happen, towards moving forward and creating momentum. So when somebody comes to us and asks us a question, our bias is to answer that question to give them the next step to move things forward. Here's what happens, here's the scenario that happens everyday in entrepreneurial businesses across the country. A team member comes to an entrepreneur and says, "Hey, how do I ..." and then insert whatever it is that they're working on, and what will happen is the entrepreneur immediately answers. In fact, sometimes when an entrepreneur doesn't even know the answer, they will answer.

Well, here's one question that will empower all of your team to do more, step into transformational leadership, help you step into transformational leadership, and accomplish more over time with less involvement for you. Are you ready for it? Here's the simple question: what would you do?

One of the biggest things that we have a hard time doing is entrepreneurs is saying, "I don't know." When we get a question from our team, our paranoia, our bias, our push, is to always give them an answer, to know the answer, to not let them know we don't know an answer. As a result, most entrepreneurs, when they're asked a question, they will give an answer even when they don't have the all the information, even when they really don't know what the answer should be.

One of the easiest ways you can start to empower your team, have them ask you less questions, and have them start to get accustomed to actually solving things in the business without your involvement is when somebody in your business comes to you and says, "Hey, we have ... " insert whatever the problem is or the issue is or the question is, "What should we do?" You should as, "I don't know, what would you do?" Or "What do you think we should do?" That one question, "What do you think we should do?" will empower your team to move forward and make more decisions on their own.

Now I want you to know something. If you've been an entrepreneur for a while, managing people and you haven't been using this, it's going to be hard for you at first. In fact, you'll catch yourself giving answers when you shouldn't be and you'll have to think through at the actual act of saying, "I don't know, what would you do?" Or, "I don't have an answer right now, what would you do?" Now, once you've started doing this for a while, here's one of the things that I tell people in my company. If you're coming to me with a problem, you'd better have at least two solutions that we could possibly use. It doesn't matter if one of them is not that great, one of them better be the one that we want to move forward with, and I always want the people in my team to be solving issues before they bring them to me.

Here's why. Once you get to any size or scale or scope of business, you as the entrepreneur are a liability if you're answering everybody's questions. That's right, you will not only become a liability because you don't know all the answers ... let's be honest, once you hit a million, two million, three million, once you have a team around you, if you're answering all the questions, you are answering questions that you really don't know the answer to, and that, in and of itself, will create a massive bottleneck, a massive issue in your business. You'll answer a question, it won't be the right answer, then your team will have to go figure out how to fix it or they'll just keep doing the wrong thing.

Secondly, if you're always answering questions for your team, you will get them accustomed to coming to you and asking questions. In fact, if you answer questions right away when they come to you, they're going to think to themselves, "I did the right thing in coming. I did the right thing in asking the question, this is exactly what I should do over and over again," and you'll find yourself getting killed by what I call is the death of a thousand paper cuts. When your team is constantly all day, "Hey, do you have a minute? Can I ask you a question? I need confirmation, I need help here."

It's like reverse transactional management. Instead of you telling people what to do, check in it got done, and then telling them what to again, they will come to you and say, is this what I should do, hey look I got I done, is this what I should do next? Either way, it will kill you, it will crush you. As an entrepreneur , you won't want to do it anymore. Those are the types of things that will us want to take our toys and go home and not manage a team anymore, so don't let it happen.

Then third, here's a big one. If you are constantly giving your team answers, you will, not maybe, not kind of, not sort of, you will become the biggest bottleneck in the business because it will eventually get to the point where your team won't make a move without getting an answer with you. It might not affect you at a million, it might not affect you at two, you might be able to live through it at three, but you get to four, five, six, ten, twenty, thirty million, and if your team is still asking your for confirmation, all you will be doing is answering questions.

You know, I've worked with a lot of different CEOs. I actually worked with one that had about a $20-million company and he used to have what he called an open door policy. I was in his office for a couple of days when I was consulting with him, and over the course of two days, there had to be at least 35 people that came in to his office and asked him a question. Not 35 people ... 35 times, people came into his office and asked him a question. In fact, we were meeting and in the middle of a conversation, and he would answer two or three questions.

I finally asked him, what is going on here. And he said, "Well, I'm very progressive." I have an open door policy. And I'm like, "This open door policy is killing your business." And I started explaining to him how much time I had watched him lose over the course of the two days that I had been with him, with people coming in and interrupting and asking questions and needing confirmation. And making sure everything was okay. And I said ... I actually had started writing down the questions that people were asking and started playing them back to him. I said, "Are these really crucial, critical questions your team should be asking?" And as he listened to me ask them all at once, not spaced out from different personalities and different people walking into the room, when I started listing them out to him, he was shocked that those were the trivial types of things that his team was coming in and asking him.

And here's the punch line, his business had been plateaued between 18 and 22 million dollars for years. He hadn't created any type of progress. He hadn't moved forward. He was stuck. Well, part of the reason he was stuck is he had literally become the biggest bottleneck in the business because anyone who wanted to do anything, looked for confirmation from him. That doesn't scale. I don't want you to ever be there. So, from the first team member you hire to every team member after that, remember there is one question that will empower your team to make decisions, solve problems on their own and create massive momentum. It's simple, what would you do? When a team member brings you an issue, ask them right back. When they ask you a question, what would you do?

Now, this also gives you an opportunity to see how the person thinks, listen to their solution and then coach success along the way. Remember, transactional, telling them what to do, checking in, it got done, telling them what to do again. Transformational, clear outcomes, coach success along the way and get leverage results. Somebody comes to you with a question. You simply ask, "What would you do?" Listen, coach success, and get leverage results. Teach your team how to think for themselves and you will have a team that goes out and changes the world, and as an entrepreneur who's listening to me, I know you want nothing less. Build your team, build your empire and go make your greatest contribution and ask your team, what would you do?

If you're ready to start building an even bigger team, even you're ready to start building a team. If you have an opportunity in your business where you know you're leaving money on the table, you know you could be doing and if you only had the right people and processes and systems, and structure around you, you could grow faster then you need to be on a call with us. Go to, fill out our short application. It will teach you a ton about your business just answering the questions we ask. We've been doing this for a long time. We know exactly how to pin point what you need. And then go through the application process. We'll share some information with you and let us show you how we are helping businesses around the world double and triple their revenue in the first year, but more importantly build the foundation to go from six to seven figures, from seven to eight, and from eight beyond.

Thank You For Listening!

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