I heard the boy ask his grandfather, “Papa, is a panda bear the only type of bear that lives in the jungle?”The grandfather, focused on reading a book, definitively said, “Yes.”
The boy came back with, “How do you know?”
The grandfather mumbled an unclear response, so the boy again asked, “How do you know?”
The young boy’s question reminded me of a CEO I work with who challenges people in his organization from time to time with the same question: “How do you know?”
Challenge the thinking and beliefs of your team members by asking them (and yourself), “How do you know?”
Start with these examples to get you in the right frame of mind:
- We provide the best customer service in the industry. “How do you know?”
- Our employees are fully engaged in our business. “How do you know?”
- Nobody has a higher quality product than us. “How do you know?”
- Next year we will increase sales by 15%. “How do you know?”
- Our team works extremely well together. “How do you know?”
- Our production efficiency levels are highest in the industry. “How do you know?”
- I have my replacement trained to take over when I retire next year. “How do you know?”
- The morale in our company is extremely high. “How do you know?”
When you can’t answer this question, it means you lack the necessary data or proof to support the belief statement.
Let’s take the first statement: We provide the best customer service in the industry.
How do you know? Do you rely on what a few customers tell you? Do you conduct a formal customer experience survey that asks a series of questions? Always gather data.
Having an inaccurate belief can cause you to make poor decisions or waste time and money fixing the wrong problem. At the same time, your credibility as a leader is diminished.
How do I know this? I’ve gathered evidence from leaders I work with and see it happen repeatedly. Don’t let it happen to you!