My grandchildren have a saying when they are asking their parents a question:
"Mom, what do baby birds like to eat? First think in your head and then check your phone."
Essentially, they are asking their mother to first try to find the answer by searching the contents of her own memory. If the answer cannot be found that way... then she is encouraged to "google the answer".
A strong leader understands the balance of cultivating an environment where the team is encouraged to "creatively look for solutions" first, in and within themselves. The benefits to this approach is that many unique solutions that are tailor fit for the organization's needs are often found. It also boosts the esteem of the team if they are able to come up with solutions and answers on their own. It encourages decisiveness and team work. Taking the time to "put our heads together" builds team confidence, morale, and cohesiveness. When we solve problems together, we learn how to work better together.
In the same right, a strong leader knows when to encourage team members to search the land of the internet for solutions, inspiration, and examples of how complete a project or solve a problem. There are times when unique challenges rise to the surface and the team struggles with how to answer it. It is then appropriate for the team to go hunting for the answers by asking the Internet for guidance. Inspiration can be stirred and solutions can be uncovered when we ask Google to help us.
The danger is skipping the "THINK IN YOUR HEAD" step altogether and relying on the internet to be the only resource relied upon. Don't get me wrong. I am a big believer in using the internet as a resource. However, I do think that sometimes we miss out on the benefits of enriching the team when we bypass taking the time to put our heads together and thinking the solution through. Google may give us the answers, but nothing will be able to strengthen a team like trying to come up with creatively solutions together.
Think in your head. Then check in your phone. You will be surprised at how much you already know.
Todd Polyniak is a partner at SAX and is an expert in Not-For-Profit financial health for over 30 years.