7 Ways Leaders Can Ask Better Questions

Guest Post by L. David Marquet

The 7 Sins of Questioning

1. Question stacking

Don’t try using the Socratic method as a “teaching moment.” It’s annoying and arrogant.

2. Leading questions

3. “Why” questions

4. Dirty questions

Self-affirming questions seek to make the asker feel good rather than to reveal the truth of the situation.

5. Binary questions

6. Self-affirming questions

  • “Right?”
  • “Does that make sense?”
  • “You have what you need?”
  • “All good?”
  • “Is everything tasting great tonight?”
  • “Did you have a wonderful stay?”
  • “What am I missing?”
  • “What would you like to hear more about?”
  • “What could go wrong?”
  • “What could we do better?”

7. Aggressive questioning

Note from Bob:   When David Marquet became the captain of the USS Santa Fe, one of the U.S.’s nuclear submarines, it was the worst performing submarine in the fleet.  Captain Marquet began treating his crew as leaders, not followers, and giving control, not taking control. It wasn’t long before operations took a dramatic turn. Santa Fe went from “worst to first,” achieving the highest retention and operational standings in the Navy.  Captain Marquet retired from the Navy in 2009 and is now the author of  “Turn the Ship Around!” a true story of turning followers into leaders. Fortune magazine called the book the “best how-to manual anywhere for managers on delegating, training, and driving flawless execution.”

 In today’s post you had opportunity to get just a tiny glimpse into David’s genius at turning followers into leaders.  Below you have opportunity to view one of his weekly Leadership Nudges: that relates to today’s post. (simply click on the image below to view)

L. David Marquet


L. David Marquet:
As commander of a nuclear submarine, David realized having one point of command was not only limiting to the efficiency of operations, it was actually dangerous.  You can learn more about David’s experiences and the origin story of Intent-Based Leadership® in his Amazon #1 Best Seller: Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders.  Now, David works with leaders to build work environments where people contribute and feel valued —where everyone is a leader.  Sign up to receive the weekly Nudge here and find out more at IntentBasedLeadership.com.


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