4 Reasons Why Questions are a Leader’s Best Friend

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Guest Post by Art Petty

surgeonscalpel

The best leaders I know wield questions like a surgeon wields a scalpel…carefully, precisely, respectfully and always with an objective in mind.

4 Reasons Why Questions are a Leader’s Best Friend:

1. Questions teach

They encourage those around us 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 reframe 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:

Learn the art of asking questions, but remember to wield them like a surgeon: carefully, precisely and respectfully. Emphasis on the “respectfully” portion, or, you risk crossing the line from positive to intimidating.

Art PettyLeadershipCaffeine

Art Petty is the author of the Management Excellence Blog as well as 2 other books on leading and developing others, the latest which is Leadership Caffeine. Art also serves as a highly reviewed adjunct management professor at DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business and is a frequent guest lecturer or instructor at other Chicago-area institutions.

 

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Wayne Hastings   |   01 May 2014   |   Reply

Good post. I think a leader’s questions also help validate an employee. Questions show you are listening and interested in what the employee/team member has to say. They open the door for future input and make the person feel worth and valued.

Bob Tiede   |   02 May 2014   |  

Great Point Wayne! We all feel affirmed when our leader asks us, “What do you think?”