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Don't Pretend to Always Have the Answer and Other Must-Read Business Tips

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A roundup of the best tips of the week from


By definition, leaders are expected to provide direction to other people. In the business world, many leaders spent the majority of their time fielding questions from their employees; all day, people come to them looking for answers to problems.

But doling out answers like that might be stunting your staffers' ability to think for themselves, says Mark Sanborn, president of Sanborn & Associates Inc., a Lonetree, Colo.-based leadership development firm. Leaders shouldn't pretend to always have the right answers, because they don't. Instead, "leaders ask the right questions and know where to find the best answers," he says. If your employees keep asking you the same questions, you're doing something wrong.

Leaders themselves should be the most curious and questioning people of all. Think of yourself not as a guru but as a seeker. "Without questioning and curiosity, leaders simply manage by using familiar answers long after the marketplace has started asking different questions," Sanborn says. More: 7 Leadership Lies You Need to Stop Believing

Instead of giving advice, help people problem solve.

When asked for help, most of us are inclined to impose our opinion on the other person, to try to persuade her that our way is the best way. But that doesn't help the person become a better decision-maker. "Sometimes, having a 'good impact' involves deliberately opting not to persuade," says Reeshad Dalal, a psychologist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., who studies decisions and advice. Try to guide the person through the problem-solving process you would use to reach a decision. Talk it out with them. With any luck, you'll have helped your friend or mentee to build decision-making muscles that will serve him well in the future. More: How to Give Great Advice

Fitness is a powerful networking tool.

Burning a few calories with someone can be a relationship builder. "A lot of barriers break down when you're working out with somebody," says Elizabeth Robinson, a personal trainer in Philadelphia and the creator of VitFit, a mobile app for creating custom workouts. That's good news for fitness-conscious entrepreneurs, as it means that staying in shape can help you network or maintain existing business relationships. You'll see a more personal side of someone on the rowing machine than you will at a café table. More: 7 Ways Exercising Can Make You a Better Entrepreneur

Try to integrate your goals with those of other people.

Putting yourself first is an essential component of achieving your goals, but that doesn't mean you should ignore the needs and desires of others, says Jason Womack, founder of The Womack Company, an Ojai, Calif.-based productivity-training firm. Find ways to integrate your desires with those of others for mutual benefit. Womack uses an example he got from Nilofer Merchant at this year's TED Conference: If you want to take a walk during lunch for health reasons, and someone needs a few minutes of your time, simply invite her to join you in the walk. Then you both get what you want. More: Your Secret to Success? Be More Selfish

Make a weekly 'money date' with yourself.

Financial planning isn't just for the wealthy. No matter your socioeconomic status, you should spend regular time thinking about your finances, says Brittney Castro, the founder and CEO of Financially Wise Women, a Los Angeles-based financial planning firm for women. She recommends setting aside at least one hour a week for your finances. Make it a recurring date, so that you can make financial planning a consistent habit. Review your budget, pay any pressing bills that aren't set up for automatic payments and update your financial goals. "Make your money dates as enjoyable as possible -- listen to music, dance, light candles or do anything else that makes the personal finance process fun for you," Castro says. "The more fun it is, the more likely it is that you'll continue to do it." More: 5 Steps to Take Control of Your Personal Finances

Brian Patrick Eha

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Brian Patrick Eha is a freelance journalist and former assistant editor at He is writing a book about the global phenomenon of Bitcoin for Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It will be published in 2015.