Good questions have the power to unlock minds, open doors and create new opportunities. In my coaching practice, I find that asking the right question at the right time is often the catalyst that moves a client forward. Smart leaders know this and are skilled at asking questions that prompt team members to see fresh perspectives, make new connections and imagine innovative possibilities.
Asking good questions and listening attentively to the answers also helps leaders engage with and develop deeper bonds with their teams and ultimately drive better results. “Questions and thoughtful answers foster smoother and more effective interactions, they strengthen rapport and trust, and lead groups toward discovery,” Harvard Business School Professors Alison Brooks and Leslie John write in the Harvard Business Review.
Develop your questioning skills
In our leadership trainings and our leadership development sessions with executives, we often spend time looking at the power of questions. While it’s natural for leaders to feel they should have answers, we find found that for many executives it’s not a lack of answers that holds them back but the failure to ask good questions.
Sometimes the simplest questions are the most effective. Simply asking a subordinate “What do you think?” can open up communication in a way that yields new answers to old problems.
Here are more examples of powerful questions that leaders might ask of their teams and of individual team members:
Of course, asking questions is only half of the equation, and some of our leadership development clients find they need to work on their listening skills. To listen well, remember to listen both to what is being said and to how it is being said through body language, tone of voice, inflection, etc.
Using questions to expand your own leadership potential
Smart leaders also make it a habit to investigate their own leadership effectiveness by asking questions of themselves. Making this a practice will energize your own leadership development.
Here are some leadership development questions you might ask yourself:
For most of us, asking transformative questions is a skill that must be learned and practiced. If you’re ready to learn more about leveraging the power of questions in your work, Contact The Workplace Coach today.
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