In some of the work we have been doing recently, it is becoming apparent that in today’s digital world many leaders are not thinking about and framing powerful questions. Our ability to think critically about something is becoming lost because as leaders we are losing the art of questioning. Questions are the catalyst behind our thinking and our thinking quality is determined by the quality of our questions.
If there were no questions to be answered there would be no thinking. We are seeing more statements being made rather than questions. Certainly there is a time and place for statements, however a major inhibitor of statements is they force us to judge; to agree or disagree, to decide whether the statement is factual or opinion, or both. It also signals to those involved there limited scope for discussion and, dare I say, more often than not statements raise more questions than they provide answers.
Here are seven reasons why we work with leaders in our coaching and leadership development programs to master the art of questions.
Innovation: You can’t innovate unless you are prepared to ask deep probing questions that open up creativity and ideas.
Increases decision quality: Using questions to establish facts, separate opinions, and test assumptions, produces better outcomes. Ask yourself, how many times in the course of a day do you question people’s assumptions?
Encourages learning: The ability of leaders to cause people to think critically about the cause and effect of intended or completed actions is essential to fostering learning.
Provides or confirms direction: Ambiguity can be taken out of situations by asking well thought out specific questions to ensure those involved have clarity around the required outcomes. Sketchy questions result in sketchy responses.
Builds self-awareness: Peter Drucker said that one of the essentials for leaders was to understand themselves. Self-awareness only comes through intense reflective questioning of your own behaviour.
Allows for appropriate challenge: Any form of challenge is likely to evoke an emotional response at some level as people move to protect their status. In such circumstance ‘telling ‘is one the worst options to choose because it is viewed as taking control. Thoughtful questions draw out the issues and help create a broader understanding of the challenge.
Gain Commitment: Sometimes people will readily commit to a course of action; more often than not it requires people to understand the consequences, confirm authority levels, understand how all people involved will know the commitment has been met, and what they are responsible for. This can only happen through discussion and therefore involves questions.
Leader who become masters in the art of questioning know that the person who asks quality questions is at an advantage in any situation. Quality questions, asked appropriately, open up a world of possibility, creativity and connection between people.
Vivente Australia enables leaders and managers to create the conditions that allow their people to do their best work every day thus creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its outcomes.