The New Leader Tuesday series is dedicated to helping first-time, early career and even experienced professionals with a “beginner’s mind” progress on their journey towards effective leadership.
The best leaders wield questions precisely, respectfully and always with a clear objective in mind.
At Least 4 Reasons Why Questions are a Leader’s Best Friend:
1. Questions teach. They encourage people to think through and around issues. Helping people see things beyond their role or their function…and encouraging them to look at the bigger picture is best accomplished through deft questioning, not lecturing.
2. Questions promote innovation. I was on the receiving end of this one after spending a considerable amount with my team working through a problem to arrive at a solution: If it turns out that this approach is not acceptable, how else might you solve this problem? The new solution…a very different one turned out to be a much better approach.
3. Questions promote performance. Just the knowledge that the boss asks tough, non-judgmental questions motivates people to think harder and deeper about their ideas and approaches. A good boss wants as much gray matter of his/her team as possible!
4. Questions promote improved decision-making. Similar to the question for innovation above, effective leaders ask questions that encourage their team members to re-frame situations when evaluating a decision. Something perceived as a problem might well be approached in a different manner when framed as neutral or even as an opportunity.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
Effective leaders know that good questions foster healthy dialog and creative thinking. The next time you’re tempted to kick-off a lecture, pause and try a question or two on for size. Your team members will thank you, and you’ll likely learn something in the process.
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