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Leaders Should Be Asking Questions

Are you a leader? Do you have all the answers? Doubt it. You may have a lifetime of experience along with multiple degrees and certifications, but that doesn’t mean you know it all. A good leader is always asking questions. Throw the “confidence in my competence” thinking out the window and ask questions to everyone around you including vendors, clients, team members, other leaders and key contacts. Trust what they have to say, and they’ll trust you right back just for asking their opinion. A culture of trust and openness can lead to great success in seizing new opportunities and addressing unexpected challenges.

"Research has shown that expressing vulnerability and asking for help is a strong signal to others that you are trusting, and you’re more likely to be trusted in return.” In fact, asking questions can spark innovative thinking which leads to creative solutions. So, how does a leader ask good questions?

Ask powerful and inspiring questions. Encourage exploration of major new opportunities that have yet to be identified. We’re looking for broad questions that communicate a sense of ambition and will take the organization beyond where it is today.

Admit that you don’t have all the answers. When you say it out loud, no one is expecting you to have all the answers anymore. Admitting that someone else could have an answer is vulnerable and cultivates trust with those you’re asking for help.

Solicit others to help you find the answers. Inviting others to collaborate with you, the leader, makes you human just like them. Whether it be employees or customers, you suddenly become relatable when you reach out for answers. Diversify your sources to learn from every angle. Surveys, focus groups, interviews, panels, any platform that opens the conversation is a good source if it’s in the right place.

Being a leader that asks good questions can change your culture for the better. It sends the message that if the leader doesn’t know it all, I don’t need to know it all either. This encouragement of exploration and idea generation creates a culture of inclusivity and employees feel a part of the team because their opinion matters. It also creates a culture of learning. The more you value employee input, the more they’ll be inspired to expand their knowledge to participate in the growth of the organization.

Examples of good questions:

  • What is a game-changing opportunity that could create much more value than we have delivered in the past?

  • What are emerging unmet needs of our customers that could provide the foundation for an entirely new business?

  • How could we leverage the resources of third parties to address a broader range of the needs of our customers?

  • How can we move from standardized, mass-market products and services to personalizing our products and services to the specific needs of each customer?

  • How can we develop networks that would be more flexible in responding to unanticipated disruptions in our business?


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