Leaders ask Questions - Three professionals brainstorming with post-its on a wall, focusing on a business plan, with a male leader flanked by two female colleagues.

The best leaders know to ask good questions

October 21, 2022In Articles6 Minutes

Good leadership is all about asking good questions.

Whether you are leading a team, managing a project, or directing an organization, the key to success lies in your ability to ask the right questions. Whether you are trying to motivate your team, solve a problem, or make a decision, you must understand what information you need and how best to gather it. This requires identifying and articulating your needs and those of your team or organization.

Effective leadership requires strong communication skills, including active listening and clear, concise messaging. Leaders ask questions, delving into their deeper meanings to enhance their effectiveness, fostering an environment of trust and collaboration. This empowers all to contribute their best ideas, embodying the responsibility of leadership to ask insightful questions and leave a significant impact on the world.

Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions.

It is essential to ask questions that draw others in and explore new opportunities rather than putting them on the spot. Asking pointed questions such as “How could we achieve 10% more productivity” or “Is the team missing something here?” does not invite conversation or creativity. Leaders must be aware of significant new opportunities for their organization and how best to utilize them by asking open-ended questions.

Here are some examples:

  • What team actions or milestones could create more opportunities than we have had in the past?
  • How can we partner with other companies to provide dynamic products or services for our customers? And how can we shift from standardized, mass-market offerings to customizing our products and services for each customer?
  • How can we create supply networks more responsive to pandemic-related or sudden disruptions in production or logistics?
  • What customer needs are not being met that could provide the basis for an entirely new business?

This kind of questioning will help you circumvent any fears you might have about whether or not asking questions makes you look weak. Also, it shows that you have a real sense of ambition if you want to understand the parts of the business that you don’t understand so you can help take the company to new heights.

Create A Community

Don’t limit these types of questions to closed-off leadership meetings. Instead, let your whole company and even people outside of it know about them too. By doing this, you’re not only posing a question to your employees but also allowing your brand to reach out and learn from its consumers. Furthermore, going beyond just those within the organization will help gather a broader range of perspectives and ideas, making learning quicker for everyone involved.

For example, consider Domino’s Pizza. Around ten years ago, customers were letting Domino’s know they did not appreciate the company’s pizza. Most organizations would try to keep this information hidden or work behind closed doors to fix the problem; however, Domino’s took a different approach by making the feedback public and inquiring about ways to improve their pies. This proactive measure generated many suggestions that proved instrumental in enhancing the pizzas.

But the company gained customers’ trust beyond an open innovation success by expressing vulnerability. The company showed that it cared about its customer base by admitting it had a problem and asking for help to address it.

I wish more people had the strength to ask for assistance when they have a problem; they might be more successful in repairing broken trust relationships.

Change The Dynamic

By asking these questions, you can help people come together and calm their anxieties in times of stress. It’s a proven fact in psychology that being around others helps reduce anxiety—that’s the basics behind group therapy. Furthermore, having a tangible goal to work towards also alleviates feelings of powerlessness. So by helping individuals focus on short-term actions they can do as a collective, your questions can have both a unifying and calming effect during difficult situations.

Leaders ask questions to model the importance of seeking new opportunities and soliciting assistance, fostering a culture of learning vital for any organization’s present and future success.

Try this method if you want people to explore and generate new ideas rather than seek exact answers. Encouraging small steps forward will help build momentum and excitement about the project. If your early answers are not groundbreaking, share them with your stakeholders. This will contribute to your learning culture and show that your questioning generates new insights.

This will increase their confidence in your methods.

Leaders who ask thought-provoking questions are more likely to succeed regarding new opportunities and challenges. Furthermore, the benefits of this questioning will continue thanks to the shift in culture that these leaders create.

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