Asking the Right Questions

November 1st, 2021 | Leadership
Asking the Right Questions

Originally Posted @ CareersInGovernment.com

Leadership is not as much about knowing the right answers as it is about asking the right questions.

What is a leader, who thinks they need to know all the right answers, tempted to do, when they are asked a question for which they don’t know the answer?

Yes – they are tempted to make up an answer on the spot!

How do I know?  I used to be that leader!  My staff were kind and none of them said it out loud, but I am sure there were times they were thinking, “I don’t think Bob knows – I think he just made that up!”

What a heavy burden sits on the shoulders of  any leader, who thinks they need to have all the answers!  Because we all know that no one can have all the answers!

Here is what is so interesting – just having a few simple questions ready to use anytime you are asked a question you don’t know the answer for is so easy!

Here are mine:

Can you please tell me more?  I use this one, even when I think I know the answer – because so many times I have answered what I thought was the question only to discover that I had missed their question.  Asking, “Can you please tell me more?” greatly increases the odds that I will actually understand their question.

Wow!  That’s a great question!  I don’t know the answer!  How would you answer?  Many times they will actually have an answer to their question!  But of course they might respond by saying, “I don’t know – that is why I am asking you!”

You can then respond by asking:  Again – you are asking a great question!  I don’t know the answer!  How do you think we might find the answer?   They will appreciate that you have affirmed their question and they will likely have ideas of how to find out the answer.

Additional questions you might ask are:  Who might know?  Might we find an answer online?  

They are likely to have several ideas on where an answer might be found.  And then you can ask, Would you be willing to pursue finding out the answer and then bringing it back to me?

If you are that leader – who thinks you need to have all the answers – is that burden feeling a lot lighter now?

It really is true that:

“Leadership is not as much about knowing the right answers as it is about asking the right questions.”

Bob Tiede

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob has been on the staff of Cru for 52 years. He currently serves on the U.S. Leadership Development Team and is passionate about seeing leaders grow and multiply their effectiveness. Bob and his wife, Sherry, live in Plano, TX and are blessed with 4 incredible children and 8 remarkable grandchildren.

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