Using questions effectively (1)

A leader’s ability to effectively ask questions is a powerful tool. A leader can maximise the use of questions in two key areas of his leadership. I will talk about the use of questions for creative purposes in this post and deal with the second aspect in another post.

Leaders are required to be problem solvers hence the reason why they are in charge. You need creativity to solve problems but creativity is kick-started by curiosity, which is built on by asking the right questions. Insight comes from the willingness to ask the right questions. Most breakthroughs originated from questions that others missed or ignored. A lot of problems remain unsolved because the wrong questions are being asked. An effective leader looks out for the right question because with the right question{s}, a problem is half solved.

Children are famous questioners because they are open to possibilities and curious to know more. As we grow older we avoid asking obvious questions because we fear appearing stupid before others. Children have no such fear nor should leaders because questions enable us identify and fill our knowledge gaps.

There are empowering questions which get the creative juices flowing and demoralising questions which hinder insight. It is up to us to use them wisely. In any given day, we ask ourselves countless questions and these questions are used to evaluate our options. According to Anthony Robbins, successful people tend to ask better quality questions and as a result get better answers. This is because our questions are determined by our thoughts, which influences our actions. He further argues that the main difference between people is dependent on the type of questions they ask themselves and others consistently. Hence if you ask a terrible question, you will get a terrible answer. Questions direct our perception. They are like a laser beam which concentrates our focus. Wrong questions provoke worry but the right ones provide wisdom.

3 replies on “Using questions effectively (1)”

Nice one, lots of great reminders about the importance of asking the right questions.

I absolutely agree that a good leader is not afraid to ask questions because a good leader should want to know the whats, hows and whys of any issue so that (s)he can inform those (s)he leads, and even for self-improvement. I think maybe sometimes people are afraid of realizing they don’t actually know something. So we say ‘ignorance is bliss…’

I am intrigued by the notion that the questions i ask myself and others actually says something about the quality of my thoughts. Here I was, all this time, thinking I think too much, that I overanalyze. I guess it’s all part of the filtering process.

Times like this I wouldn’t mind having my childhood confidence. I remember I asked questions that made people think I was a lot more than I appeared to be… 🙂

I think the take-home message here for me is that we should not be afraid to ask. As a leader now and for the future, I owe it to my mentees and to myself, actually.

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