Leaders Ask Great Questions
Plenty of success gurus can tell you about the importance of asking questions—not just for leaders, but for everyone. In your personal life as well as in business, understanding others’ knowledge and goals is an important part of being successful—and, frankly, an important part of having empathy.
“No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.” -Neil deGrasse Tyson
Very few happy people got that way by concentrating solely on their needs. And asking great questions is how you find out about the landscape of others’ values and ideas.
But for leaders, how you ask questions is especially important. You are only ever going to be as successful as the team you lead. You can ask questions in a demanding way that shuts down creativity and understanding. You can “demand answers.” You can lead with questions that clearly establish your authority and make it obvious that you want a specific answer. Guess what? Those questions will hold your team back. Those questions don’t improve your leadership; they restrict it.
“What makes us human, I think, is an ability to ask questions…” Jane Goodall
But if you can model a friendly, honest, humane curiosity about your team’s work, that can be inspiring. Be surprised when you learn something new. Ask about the details that intrigue you—not as a micromanager, but as someone who likes to learn and hear about what’s important to your team. Those kinds of questions can open up important channels for innovation and personal growth as well as business success.
My panel for this podcast has some great ideas about how to ask better questions, and why it’s an important part of building trust on your team.
“Part of being successful is about asking questions and listening to the answers.” -Anne Burrell
- shows vulnerability
- uncovers information
- demonstrates respect
- engenders relationship
- forces you to listen
- signals confidence
- increases trust
- improves your credibility
- demonstrates humility
“Great leaders don’t know all the answers; they are the ones who know how to inspire others to help them find the best answers.” -Simon Sinek
“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” -Eugene Jonesco
“I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.” -Lou Holtz