Great Leaders Ask Great Questions

August 12, 2014 by  

While knowing the right answers is important in many situations especially when responding to the people to whom you are accountable it is not necessarily the key to an effective leader. There is actually a skill more important than having the right answers. To be a truly successful leader, you have to be great at asking great questions. This talent is more important than coming up with good answers.

Here are seven tips for honing your question asking skills:
1. Ask open-ended questions. The other person will be more honest and revealing, when you ask these sorts of questions because you are requesting their input.
2. Get behind the assumptions. You may have an answer but first check to see what the other person thinks. When you have the right team, their perspective will likely align with yours, or you might have the opportunity to learn a new approach.
3. Get both sides of the story. The truth is often somewhere in the middle but it cannot be arrived at without knowing the full situation.  Lots of questions will be necessary here.
4. Ask follow-up questions. Dig deeper and find out more about what others think and feel. This strategy will also enhance your relationship with this person.
5. Get comfortable with dead air. The best answers often come after the silence, we don’t need to be talking all the time, in fact we can’t think and talk at the same time.  So if are actually going to listen and learn, we need to stop talking!
6. Help people discover their own insights. This is what the Socratic Method of teaching is all about! Get others actively involved in their learning process; they will retain much more information using that approach.
7. Understand the difference between facts and speculation. Clarification brings truth, and although opinions might be interesting to learn, facts are what are necessary in order to make measured decisions.  In addition, a collaborative result is more meaningful and accurate for everyone.

How good are you at asking those great questions?

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