Written By: Dwayne W.
Asking the right question is a skill that can unlock value within people and organizations. It can encourage learning and the exchanging of ideas, which lead to discovery. It is often the catalyst for innovation and better practices. You can discover pitfalls and hidden risks when you ask the right questions. It helps build good communication and trust within your team. It’s a skill that can certainly be learned and once mastered, becomes a potent tool in a leader’s tool belt.
The most important discipline in asking questions is to LISTEN! It doesn’t matter how great your questions are; if you don’t listen to how they are answered, you are wasting time and damaging any influence you might have as a leader. Don’t ask yes and no questions. Ask open-ended questions.
At a minimum, you are doing three things when you ask the right question.
1. You are learning.
A good, well-placed question leads to discovery. It’s a question that leads to a different perspective. For example, let’s say you release authority to another leader, and they do something other than you would have. Instead of barging in and stating how you would have done it, how about asking the question, “Why did you do this like this?” THEN LISTEN! Most leaders have a perspective that drives their actions, and it’s always good for me to see it as they do!
2. They learn!
Sometimes as a leader (or parent), you already understand the other person’s perspective and what motivates them. But, instead of simply stating what you know, a well-asked question will help the other person learn! Once again, ask the question and listen. I can’t count the number of times this has happened to me! Someone took the time to ask a great question, and in answering it or even considering the answer, I discovered that my perspective was wrong or incomplete. It’s a great gift when you or someone else takes time and effort to fashion and ask a great question.
3. We learn!
Often as a leader, when you forge into areas of the unknown, no one in your team understands the space you are trying to move into. The best and quickest way to learn is to ask the right questions. As a team, you all need to listen as they are answered. This is how we learn what we need to understand to succeed.
Effective Leaders have mastered the art of asking the right question. So let me encourage you to ask more questions and listen to their answers! You’ll be glad you did!