Whether your in a position of authority or leadership or simply the gal whose been assigned to get a task done where whatever little bit of authority you have could be gone tomorrow when you move onto the next project the question is always the same – should I ask or should I tell?
One could argue that the end “task completion” result will always be higher when you tell someone what to do, after all you’ve told them to “do it”, the result will be that they “did it”.
On the other hand, when you ask for help or ask for someone to “do something” the results will vary, there could be some resistance and questions – “Why are you asking me to do this?”, “What is our end goal?”. When you ask someone, you are opening up the problem to them to contribute to it in a way that you might not have thought of, you are asking them to come to the table with ideas and brainstorming, not end-game implementation. When you ask someone, you are seeking their opinion in how to get from A to B and when you ask someone, you are now making the problem shared between the two of you.
There are scenarios where you do need to tell someone do to something (“house is burning, get out”), but in most cases, in our professional lives, the ask is more what we should be about, even in positions of authority, asking someone for help or their thoughts on a problem will always yield results that are greater than the end implementation.
And at the end of the day, wouldn’t we all rather be asked to do something versus being told to do it?