“A bad leader will tell people what to do. A good leader will ask questions and let his or her people figure out the answers. A great leader asks the questions that focus the intelligence of their team on the right problems.” Liz Wiseman, author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter
Ask – Don’t Tell!
Statement: Here is what you need to do this week!
Question: What are your priorities for this week?
Statement: To solve this problem here is what you need to do!
Question: What might you do to address this issue?
Statement: Profits are up by 15%!
Question: What contributed to our profits being up by 15%? How might we build on this?
Statement: Here are the new products/services we are going to start developing.
Question: What new products/services are our customers/clients asking for? or How can we find out what new products/services our customers/clients are asking for?
Statement: You need to go to Sales Training!
Question: What do you think might be most helpful for your development?
Statement: Here is what I am going to do for you!
Question: How can I help?
Statement: Let me give you some feedback on that.
Question: How do you think that went? What went well? What would you do different next time?
Statement: Here is who I want on that Task Force: X, X, X, X & X!
Question: Who do you think might be a good fit for this Task Force?
Statement: We need to reduce costs by 15%!
Question: How might we reduce costs by 15%
You get the picture! Almost every statement a Leader makes can easily be turned into a question.
What is your Questions to Statements Ratio?
Jim Collins’ author of “Good to Great,” “How the Mighty Fall,” Built to Last” and “Great by Choice” challenges all leaders to: “Double your questions to statements ratio!”
Mark Miller, V.P. of Training and Development at Chick-fil-A shares “I was reminded of a meeting several years ago in which Jim Collins challenged me and all the leaders in our organization to double our question to statement ratio within 12 months, and then he said we should double it again in the following 12 months!”
Of course before you can double your questions to statements ratio you have to first track your current questions to statements ratio! In your next meeting you may want to assign someone to track how many questions you ask and how many statements you make. You also might want to review your recent written communications: emails, texts, letters etc.
Before you hit “Send” on your next email might you want to take a quick look at your “Questions to Statement” ratio and quickly change many of your “Statements” to “Questions?”
Before you walk into your next meeting might you want to take a quick look at what you are planning to tell your team and quickly change many of your anticipated “Statements” to “Questions?”
And how about at home – might you want to pause before you tell your kids what they need to do in order to change your anticipated “Statements” to “Questions?”
My friend Andrew Sobel, co-author of “Power Questions” says “Telling creates resistance. Asking creates relationships.”