What Can Leaders Learn from Socrates?

By |Published On: July 1, 2013|

Socrates is one of the most famous ancient Greek philosophers.  He lived in the 5th century BC.  He has many famous quotes such as, “I know that I know nothing”.  Socrates is also credited with creating a form of logical reasoning known as the Socratic Method.

The Socratic Method is based on a group dialog or discussion where participants ask and answer questions to improve critical thinking and develop great conclusions.

It’s this concept that Michael Lindenmayer writes about in his recent post.  I love the concept of creating a questioning culture – one that leads to great decisions.  In real life, however, too often questioning is met with defensiveness.

I know I tend to get defensive at times when my ideas are questioned.

In fact, if we can question respectfully and get past our own fears and issues of being questioned (that’s where Socrates’ concept of “Know Thyself” comes in), we can make better decisions and be better leaders.

Changing your culture can be challenging and can take time.  But give this a try.  Begin asking your employees to question the very premises we believe – not to cause trouble or to put someone else down – but together to develop the very best possible decision possible.  AND when the results of the decision aren’t ideal, question it again and move on.


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