Stop Talking Start Asking

Note from Bob:  Jean Marie Digiovanna and I share the same “Leading With Questions” DNA!  When she sent me her book, “Stop Talking Start Asking – 27 Questions to Shift the Culture of Your Organization” I could not put it down!  Below you can read just a portion of her introduction to this “must-have” book for every leader:

CULTURE IS NOT ABOUT WHAT YOU DO

It’s about who you are, how you behave, and how you interact with everything and everyone around you. It’s about how you relate to:

  • the place you work (your environment)
  • the people you work with (your manager, team, peers, partners, and vendors)
  • the people you serve (your clients or customers)
  • the process you follow (your norms, methodology, and rules of engagement)
  • the technology you use (your tools and infrastructure)

Culture is a relationship. Culture is about being, not doing.

Yet in our fast-paced, “need-it-done-now” world, we have become human “doing” machines. We start our day writing to-do lists and focus the rest of our day on checking each item off. We get frustrated when issues take us away from our list because we secretly crave that shot of dopamine, that “feel-good” hormone we get when we check an item off. It’s like a shot of adrenaline that inspires us to tackle more.

It’s no wonder why, at the end of the day, we have very little energy for those we say we care about the most — our partner, family, and friends.

In 1989 I began my corporate career as an IT consultant at an IT education and software integration company. In 1991, I was one of ninety employees from that company who spun off a very successful startup next to MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We became the ninety founding partners of Cambridge Technology Partners.  In 1993 I went from a founding partner to becoming a burned-out management consultant.

It was then that I began to question what my life purpose was. I knew there was something more, so I began to get really curious and really committed to my own growth and development. I was determined to expand my life and explore what was possible for me — and that was the start of my inward journey.

I got to see how much I was doing and how little I was being.

I got to see how much I was judging and how little I was listening.

got to see how much I was talking and how little I was asking.

I got to see how “me-focused” I was and how that impacted my relationships.

Then the light bulb went off.

If I truly wanted new results in my work and my life, I had to shift my way of being. So I started practicing being more and doing less.

An interesting thing happened.

When I practiced being more patient, I got more done in less time.

When I practiced being more curious, my relationships deepened.

When I practiced being unstoppable, I took risks I would have never dreamed of.

Even though it was counterintuitive, I realized that being human was the catalyst to achieving results. Shifting from doing to being was not easy and it was also not instantaneous, but there was one tool that helped make the shift much smoother. It is the very same tool that inspires change, increases learning and growth, and sparks innovation.

You can make your teams run, but you can’t make them run faster. What you can do is inspire them to think differently. Questions open up possibility and new ways of thinking. New thinking drives new behaviors. New behaviors impact culture.

As Ben Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and author of The Art of Possibility says, “The Conductor doesn’t make a sound. The Conductor’s power depends on his ability to make other people powerful.”

The fastest way to shift a culture is to ask new questions.

What new questions can you ask that will shift the culture of your organization?

I thought you’d never ask!

Depending on what you want to shift in your culture, each chapter in this book provides specific questions to ask yourself, your team, and your peers that will shift you and your team from doing to being. New behaviors will shift your culture, resulting in increased employee engagement, productivity, and happiness.

When your employees are engaged and happy, your customers are happy.

When your customers are happy, the impact to your bottom line is a win/win/win for you, your organization, and your stakeholders.

HOW CAN POWERFUL QUESTIONS SHIFT YOUR CULTURE?

There are many types of questions you could ask to help shift your culture, but not all of them are powerful. What do I mean by powerful? A powerful question does one of two things. It either forwards the action or deepens the learning.

The most powerful questions are open-ended (beyond a yes or no answer), and they generally start with “What” or “How.” Sometimes, they can start with “Why” as long as the questions seek to understand, not judge, a process or approach. For example, “Why is this important to you?” is a powerful question. “Why did you do it this way?” is not so powerful since it puts the recipients on the defense. Instead of being expansive, it keeps them in their heads, analyzing, or it has them stuck in the past, analyzing.

“When,” “Where,” and “Which” questions provide facts. They are informative but not powerful. The questions in each chapter are powerful questions that are meant to open up and expand your thinking.

Note From Bob:  Has this portion of Jean Marie’s “Introduction” to “Stop Talking Start Asking – 27 Questions to Shift the Culture of Your Organization” whetted your appetite?  You will want to click HERE to order “Stop Talking Start Asking – 27 Questions to Shift the Culture of Your Organization” today! 

Jean Marie Digiovanna

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jean Marie Digiovanna is an international keynote speaker and Certified Executive Coach.  For three decades she has worked with hundreds of teams and their leaders across the globe to master communication and increase employee engagement using the power of questions.  You can connect with Jean Marie @ jmd@jeanmariespeaks.com

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