Is it time to stop talking and start asking questions?
Many leaders don’t ask questions – of their teams, their colleagues, or their customers. Why not? In many instances, they
• are expected to have all the answers
• assume their employees or colleagues don’t have the answers
• don’t want to know or have to act on the answers
For many, it hasn’t even occurred to them to ask.
There is no reason that you should take on the entire burden of the communication yourself. Both the speaker and the listener each have responsibilities when it comes to communication.
Be a facilitator. Find out what others are thinking and feeling. Draw upon their diverse knowledge and experience. Their skills in problem-solving, analytical thinking, and critical thinking can be useful assets. Try some of the following questions.
- What do you think about….?
- What is happening with …? Why do you think that is the case…?
- What is most important to you?
- What do you see as some options for solving this problem?
Jeffrey, a participant in one of my workshops remarked that asking more and telling less is one of his favorite leadership strategies.
“I realized a long time ago that if I was the only one talking in a room of 20 people, I was cheating myself and the rest of the people, who were usually smarter than me and had fresher young minds and ideas, from giving input that would contribute to the solving whatever problem we were dealing with or creating a new strategy. ..You are right on when you say, ‘Good questions lead to more good questions.’ This kind of communication leads to solutions by sharing information and fresh ideas from people with different ways of looking at things. And in today’s rapidly changing technologies this is a must.”
Truth be told, a good question may not always have an equally good answer, but thought-provoking questions stimulate new ways of looking at issues, assumptions, problems, and day-to-day operations. Not asking can take you down the wrong path.