In a world of constant change, how do you maintain your edge? How do you lead well while executing your strategy and keeping your people engaged? Use powerful questions; they make all the difference in successful leadership.
Think about your last leadership team meeting. How would you evaluate the outcomes? What was the ratio of asking versus telling? Imagine if you asked more questions and listened deeply for most of the meeting. How would that change your impact and the experience of your leadership team?
As a leader, your focus should be less on sharing what you know and more about how you challenge and inspire those around you. You don’t need to have all the answers. The reality is that your organization is much more purposeful, focused and ultimately successful when you are open to finding solutions with your team.
Questions are useful leadership tools because they help you:
• Get better information. Good questions unearth essential information you need as a leader. Do you accept the initial response you get, or do you dig deeper? How often do you assume that everything is fine when you don’t hear bad news? That is a dangerous assumption. It may mean your staff are afraid to share anything with you but good news. When information surfaces in your conversations and meetings, probe further for details without straying into blaming.
• Get a competitive advantage through a better culture. Asking questions and deeply listening to the answers builds trust, communicates respect and encourages your team to fully engage. As Steve Jobs famously said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” By asking great questions, you will empower your team to use their skills and do their best work.
The simple shift from telling to asking can have an enormous impact on your leadership effectiveness.