To Become a Better Leader, Turn Statements Into Questions.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask.” —Albert Einstein.

We’ve all worked with a boss who was overly reliant on statements, when posing a question could have produced better results. You know the type of boss I’m referring to. He or she assumes that management is about knowing all the answers, and that their job is to tell people what to do. “Here’s what I want done by next week,” the boss will say, or “Here’s where you went wrong.” But statements—even positive ones like “Well done, team”—have a way of completing or closing down a conversation, whereas asking a thoughtfully chosen question can ignite a conversation, and encourage people to think, learn, problem-solve, act, or create.

Good Questions Wake People Up

In the book, Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask, author Michael J. Marquardt writes: “Good questions wake people up. They prompt new ideas. They show people new places, new ways of doing things. They help us admit that we don’t know all the answers.”

As a leader, the minute you start believing that you have all the answers you stop being curious, stop being open to learning, and stop asking critical questions. And if you stifle your curiosity, you’ll miss out on gathering vital information about what’s going on in your business. You may also fail to spot opportunities or problems. Most importantly, when you stop asking questions, you send a message to your team that you don’t value what they have to say. By telling, not asking, you’ll ultimately lose their trust.

Transform Statements into Questions

If you’re looking for ways to keep your team engaged and encourage them to keep learning, start turning statements into questions. If you pay enough attention, you’ll see these opportunities everywhere. For example, if your team achieves a noteworthy success, you’ll probably say “Well done, team,” right? It’s almost second nature to praise people when they accomplish something outstanding.

But statements, of course, have a way of closing off a thought process. The conversation goes no further. So invite your team to reflect, and learn from their achievements. Follow up with questions such as:

• What did we learn from this success?

Asking open-ended questions encourages people to brainstorm and think creatively. And if you follow up with questions that are increasingly more specific, you help the team harness that creativity, while fostering a culture of taking ownership and action. To help employees feel more involved in the decision-making process, ask these questions:

• What did we learn that we can implement today?

• What did we learn that we can use to make us a stronger team?

• What did we learn that we can execute to win our next bid?

A Great Leader Asks Great Questions

To become a better leader, and to engage your team, catch yourself making statements. Challenge yourself to replace those statements with questions, or follow-up with questions. As Liz Wiseman, author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter said: “A bad leader will tell people what to do. A good leader will ask questions and let his or her people figure out the answers. A great leader asks the questions that focus the intelligence of their team on the right problems.”


Join me on October 28, 2016 for a webinar, Questions That Leaders Ask Themselves and Others.

Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Follow by Email
Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is CEO of leadership development, consulting and research firm Be Leaderly. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Follow by Email
25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a ...

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

25 Songs For Your Leadership Playlist

What are your all-time favorite leadership songs — the ones that make you ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a question I ask in a survey ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

Dealing with a Bossy Coworker
Dealing with a Bossy Coworker

You might expect the occasional “order” or “command” from your boss. But it’s a whole

Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards
Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—June 11, 2019—Be Leaderly, a globally recognized provider of women’s leadership development and

15 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Stretch Assignment
15 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Stretch Assignment

Stretch assignments are like the Instant Pot of career development. An intensely challenging, ambitious, go-big-or-go-home

How Can Pay Transparency Make a Difference for Women?
How Can Pay Transparency Make a Difference for Women?

It’s well known that women still deal with a pay gap relative to men. But

5 Things to Know About Your Coworkers with Kids
5 Things to Know About Your Coworkers with Kids

You might’ve attended a baby shower in the break room, or maybe you caught a

4 Underrated Elements of a Career Advancement Plan
4 Underrated Elements of a Career Advancement Plan

A vice president of a financial company once told me, “Make a plan—or someone else

Negotiate Through Your Next Performance Review
Negotiate Through Your Next Performance Review

With performance reviews around the corner, I wanted to write a how-to post on negotiating.

Why Companies Should Give Women More Stretch Assignments
Why Companies Should Give Women More Stretch Assignments

Landing a coveted stretch assignment is a proven shortcut to a top role. Does your

5 Ways to Shine as a High-Potential
5 Ways to Shine as a High-Potential

There’s never been a better time to develop your leadership skills. According to Deloitte’s 2014

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

On a regular old day, you’re plugging along, attending to the work tasks in front

Ask Jo: How can I thank my mentor?

Question: I have an incredible mentor. She ...

Teamwork is a Skill. It Takes Practice!

Everyone wants to lead, or be a ...

It’s Worth the Risk (I promise)

This is Sarah. She’s one of my ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a ...

Leaderly Quote: Great Leaders Know When to Step Aside

“Great leaders know when to step aside.” ...

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Copyright 2019, Be Leaderly