This is the second part of using questions effectively. I discussed in a previous post on how leaders can use questions in their creative endeavours and today I will focus on the power of questions for coaching purposes.
Leaders can coach their team members by using questions to draw out answers from them. Leaders who always provide the solutions for their team members don’t enable them to think and grow. Effective questioning draws out insightful answers from team members. Coaching questions enable them to explore alternative solutions to a problem. It forces them to use their initiatives. It also encourages team members to be independent thinkers instead of been overly dependent on the leader. This frees up the leader to focus on other things because he has coached his subordinates to think for themselves.
Effective questioning is a skill which needs to be developed by all leaders. A leader needs to be skilled in using close and open-ended questions at the appropriate time in a coaching situation. Questioning should be employed both when subordinates perform their assigned tasks correctly and incorrectly. It should be used as a coaching technique not as a criticism tool.
According to Wayne Elderton, questioning is like a flashlight that illuminates a “dark understanding” a person may have. It builds awareness, because without awareness, people don’t really learn. A person who “discovered” something through effective questioning will retain it longer than if he/she was simply instructed to do it.
If your subordinates always have to run everything by you or come to you for answers, then you are robbing them of the opportunity to be strong leaders. You need to coach them to think and act like leaders. This is the greatest gift you can give them.