Leading With Questions

Posted on 05. Nov, 2013 by in Blog, Lead From Within, Leadership, Leadership Development, Life Skills, Relationships, Workplace

questionsAs leader we are sometimes expected to know all the answers—sometimes even before the questions are known. But buying into that expectation means that we risk sacrificing the very thing we need to lead with effectiveness: the right questions.

That’s why it’s important to resist the clamor for fast answers, any answers, and learn instead to lead with questions.

Some leadership models barely allow for questions. They rely on the idea that intelligence resides at the top, and that leaders don’t ask but tell. The resulting atmosphere makes growth impossible, resulting in stagnant leadership and a workforce that is less smart, less productive, less aligned, less effective, less energized, and less successful.

The right questions lead you to the right answers, which equal the right success.

 

So what are some of the tangible benefits of leading with questions?

Improved Communication:
Leading with questions makes you a better listener. It encourages attentiveness and shared perspectives.

Effective Leadership:
The act of questioning reinforces the idea that everyone is important and that we create success by serving one another.

The power of questions can strengthen relationships, develop new business, and influence others.

 

Conflict Management:
When you’re making genuine inquiries into a conflict, it fosters a spirit of neutrality. Questions that acknowledge the feelings of others can help you view all sides and prevent conflict.

Strong Connections:
Questions help you read and understand key aspects of people and relationships. To ask is to show interest. And people want to know they matter.

Culture of Engagement:
Good questions energize people, and a questioning culture can energize an entire organization. It helps everyone understand that questions are expected to become a primary mode of communication, emphasizing the thinking and learning over telling.

Asking questions shows an inquisitive heart and a open mind.

 

Collaborative Teamwork:
Questions emphasize community over individuality and improve teamwork by giving everyone an opportunity for input.

When we lead with questions, we can help everyone in our organization bring about useful objectives, reduce resistance, pursue innovation and generate transformation.

Lead From Within: A leader is as good as their questions. When you ask questions, you will change what you know. When you change what you know, you will have a new understanding. When you have a new understanding, you change your actions—and, ultimately, your leadership.

For coaching, consulting, workshops and speaking. Please feel free to contact me.
© 2013 Lolly Daskal. All rights reserved.

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40 Responses to “Leading With Questions”

  1. Jon Mertz

    05. Nov, 2013

    Lolly,

    I agree completely! Questions are central to getting the best ideas and the best contributions from others. Questions enable us to participate fully and really do more. Of course, the essential piece is what the questioner does with the answers received. Do they listen? Do they take the answers into consideration? Do they follow through?

    Questions drive answers, and then we need to close the loop and do something with the answers. This will keep people engaged and contributing.

    Thanks for a great post. Jon

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      05. Nov, 2013

      Jon

      I agree completely with what you say, we can ask questions, we can lead with questions and the success comes from listening.

      another post perhaps on listening?

      Thanks for the inspiration…

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  2. Alli Polin

    05. Nov, 2013

    Having all of the answers is literally impossible. It’s a broken culture where everyone needs to look to the top for answers, ideas, and daily direction. Questions empower us to look within and discover what we already know and to deepen that learning with reflection. Moreover, beyond a culture of engagement, leadership through questions creates a culture of curiosity. Now that’s an exciting place to be!

    Thanks, Lolly!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      05. Nov, 2013

      Alli

      I believe CURIOSITY kills the CAN’T and it leads to success.

      Thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughtful wisdom – it means a lot to me.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  3. Martina

    05. Nov, 2013

    Great post, Lolly.

    Questions also show that you are paying attention, don’t feel you know every answer, are comfortable in your own skin and can willingly and respectfully accept input from others.

    Reply to this comment
  4. lollydaskal

    05. Nov, 2013

    Martina,

    You are right QUESTIONS show you care…..and caring shows respect.

    Thanks Martina for always adding great insight to my thoughts.

    Lolly

    Reply to this comment
  5. LaRae Quy

    05. Nov, 2013

    One of the reasons leaders have trouble asking questions is that this requires them to put aside their own ego and focus on the need of those around them.

    To ask effective questions means getting out of our own world and putting ourselves in the position of others.

    It shows caring enough to even know what kind of questions to ask.

    Great post, Lolly.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      07. Nov, 2013

      Leaders do have egos and the idea is to tap into their heart.

      you are right that asking questions are good but asking the right kind of questions are better.

      Thanks for that great wisdom LaRae I appreciate you!

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  6. Tiphanie

    05. Nov, 2013

    Questions open doorways to greater possibilities… I always go back to ASK and You Shall Receive… It doesn’t say “conclude and you shall receive” or answer and you shall receive… LOL There is a great quote: “The purpose of questioning is to help you think uncommonly
    about common problems. Also, asking the right questions helps you to find, formulate and focus your ideas.” Grace McGartland

    Reply to this comment
  7. Terri Klass

    05. Nov, 2013

    Asking questions is an insightful way to communicate and connect with others as it is inclusive and showing others we value their opinions.

    The most powerful kinds of questions are empowering questions which enables others to share their wisdom and personal viewpoints.

    When we include questions in our communication we are showing others we care. Questions provide nourishment for both the speaker and the receiver.

    Loved the post, Lolly! You nailed this with the concept of leading with questions!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      07. Nov, 2013

      Terri

      When I read When we include questions in our communication we are showing others we care I thought to myself, that is the essence of what this world is all about. To show that we care for one another. The greatest leaders know how to do that. And you Terri are one of those great leaders. Thanks for being you!

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  8. Simon Harvey

    05. Nov, 2013

    I do so love your questions, love the very act of asking a question, for to question is as you say “to change what you know” When we can let go of what we think we know, then we can truly begin to grow within.

    To lead from within requires that you keep asking, keep questioning, just as the sea continues to question the shore. For with every new question there is a new answer, a new glimpse of life unseen and unknown.

    Leadership requires that questions are heard and that questions are asked. What do you need in order to do, what you do, better. What can I do to help bring what is needed. We lead so that many will succeed and grow, we question so that we can help, so that we can grow, so that we can connect.

    A great leader is a leader of, compassion and compassion asks the eternal question,what can I do to comfort, love, guide, support you. And as you ask this question you ask it of yourself as well. We question to believe, to have faith,to lead, to grow.

    Thank you for this wonderful post, and I look forward to tonights questions on #leadfromwithin

    Your friend,
    Simon

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      07. Nov, 2013

      I know when I see you here Simon I am going to learn something about your mind and heart.

      and you are so right…. A great leader is a leader of, compassion and compassion asks the eternal question,what can I do to comfort, love, guide, support you. And as you ask this question you ask it of yourself as well. We question to believe, to have faith,to lead, to grow.

      so eloquently put I could not have written such words of wisdom myself.

      Thanks Simon!

      Reply to this comment
  9. Steven Forth

    05. Nov, 2013

    “Good questions outrank easy answers.” Paul Samuelson
    Great post. Learning how to ask questions and then really listen to the answers is a key to effective teamwork as well.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      07. Nov, 2013

      “Good questions outrank easy answers.” Paul Samuelson

      Thanks Steven for the great quote!
      Thanks for sharing… very insightful… and very appropriate.

      Reply to this comment
  10. Colleen_Cooley

    05. Nov, 2013

    “The act of questioning reinforces the idea that everyone is important”

    This is how volunteer armies are built. Feeling important is what fuels a team’s performance and desire to please.

    Great post!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      07. Nov, 2013

      Colleen you are so right “The act of questioning reinforces the idea that everyone is important”

      When we ask questions we also allow others to be seen, to make part of … to be involved… which is the essence of any relationship.

      QUESTIONS are more powerful than the answers.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  11. Jeff

    06. Nov, 2013

    Lolly, I agree with your point that an authentic leader will portray the behavior quality and have the mindset of questioning everything. It is part of establishing the right culture and environment. Questions should facilitate transparency and awareness. It is a skill to be sown, grown and harvested for the health of an organization.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      07. Nov, 2013

      Jeff speaks wise words…

      Questions should facilitate transparency and awareness. It is a skill to be sown, grown and harvested for the health of an organization.

      Thanks so much for sharing… I love the insights of your mind.

      Reply to this comment
  12. Karin Hurt

    06. Nov, 2013

    I believe questions are one of our most powerful leadership tools. I love a boss who asks great questions, that take me into directions I may have missed.

    I’ve made a career making moves into organizations for which I had no experience (e.g.from HR to customer service, from service to sales). The only way you can thrive as a leader in such scenes is to ask provocative questions. Learning while leading… leading while learning.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      07. Nov, 2013

      LOVE THIS Karin! Learning while leading… leading while learning.

      True words, great sentiment, and wisdom beyond our mind.

      Reply to this comment
  13. Steven

    06. Nov, 2013

    Great post! Very insightful. We get so busy that we do not take the time to ask the questions rather come up with the answers quickly. I will make a point of asking more questions.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Panteli Tritchew

    06. Nov, 2013

    Hi Lolly,
    I believe that we are culturally programmed from K-12 to believe that asking questions shows that we don’t understand something and that we subconsciously associate asking questions with ignorance or with weakness. With being dumb.

    Thank you for the reminder that when we ask questions as leaders we are not showing weakness or ignorance, but we are extending an invitation, showing open minds and open hearts, which opens space for others, which opens possibilities for all.

    There is nothing dumb about that.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      07. Nov, 2013

      Panteli ( smiling again)

      You are correct there is nothing dumb about asking questions… if anything is makes you the smartest in the room, it makes you the most observant in the room and the most caring in the room.

      I rather question than answer. i rather in inquiry than inform.

      And there is nothing dumb about that…trust me.

      Love to see you here.
      See you next week.
      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  15. Al Miller

    07. Nov, 2013

    Love this post Lolly and thanks for sharing it.

    “Good questions energize people.” Such candid, concise truth in that. My own takeaway upon reflection is that the needle on the ‘BS meter’ among teammates drops substantially lower in a question friendly environment. All players’ roles and potential impact are so much clearer, and there’s stark meaning behind each decision in each day. I imagine the “Q” in question as a door lock with key. Energize is right!

    Reply to this comment
  16. josh

    07. Nov, 2013

    The best thing about starting with questions is that it lowers the defensiveness of others around you who might otherwise hesitate to open their mouths, especially when they are potentially threatened by relative positions in a corporate hierarchy.

    This often prevents mistakes from being made as it uncovers solutions to problems that might otherwise only be learned after the fact.

    Reply to this comment
  17. Rod J

    07. Nov, 2013

    Today, there is a movement underfoot to reengage the power of questions. Even John Maxwell is working on a book about questions. While questions make perfect sense, they’re not quite as pure as we’d like to believe. When a question is asked, there’s a contextual basis to the question. For instance, why are they asking that question. Does this relate to something that I’m not aware of? Or is this question simply a good question? The context of the person(s) asking the question, the setting and any historical data relating to the question can, and likely will influence how the question is answered. When this occurs, the power of a great question is compromised.
    Recently I’ve been working on a product called Peer Insight that creates questions in the form of a statement, but is played by pulling individual cards from a deck. This process literally gives people permission to answer the question, since it deletes the contextual relationship associated with the question. It’s been my experience working with all types of groups that this process improves the communication and power of a great question.

    Reply to this comment
  18. Daymond

    08. Nov, 2013

    Questions are also an open door to integrate, to involve, to guide people to new horizons

    Reply to this comment
  19. Marcelo Montero

    08. Nov, 2013

    Only asking questions allow us to evolve, not only as leaders, but also -and most important- as human being…

    Reply to this comment
  20. Gary Coulton

    08. Nov, 2013

    Hi Lolly,
    As always you get me thinking. The thing with questions is that they are primeval in their power. I feel the reason we are such as successful species is that everything we see and hear and feel triggers a question relating to our survival. Is this edible? Is this dangerous and of course is this sexy?
    The process by which people end up leading usually includes the suppression of curiosity and fascination the vey thing that fuels questions. Not only do you not generate questions you also cover your ears to questions from others. As the great meditators say – always have the mindset of the beginner.
    Great leaders appreciate that are always beginners in everything they do. And they allow averyone else the same latitude!

    Reply to this comment
  21. Steve Brady

    08. Nov, 2013

    Lolly, thank you for this post. It reminds me of the profound need in our world for more people to awaken to the power of lifelong learning and maintaining a beginner’s mind. Wise questions are a doorway to this wisdom. Thanks again! I love your work!

    Reply to this comment
  22. Abel Hernandez

    12. Nov, 2013

    This is precisely what we teach to our leaders. If you give them the answers (a fish) all the time, they become dependent on you and never learn how to think through challenges and as leaders, we never develop our staff. Rather, leaders take ownership of roles and responsibilities as opposed to the staff. But if we ask them to come up with two possible solutions (teaching them to fish) and to share which of the two they would recommend, we empower, develop, and enable our staff. Once they realize they are expected to participate in the process, they start to take greater ownership and develop higher levels of engagement.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      13. Nov, 2013

      Love fishing…. And it sounds like you are doing a great job with your leaders.

      Lead on with Heart Abel.

      Thanks.
      Lolly

      Reply to this comment

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