Using questions effectively (2)

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.

4 replies on “Using questions effectively (2)”

I really like that last line. True leaders nurture others into their greatness, however this a rather rare specie of leaders. The more prevalent strain are of the variety that are so insecure in themselves that they need others to remain in perpetual worship of their ‘greatness’.

Good stuff Ola.

Yeah, this is very true. It’s like a teacher-student relationship….the student cannot learn unless they are asked the right kind of questions at the right time. Eventually the student becomes the teacher. Nice one Uncle Ola.

A very piece Ola, and I like the picture!
It is surprising how little most people are aware of the rich and powerfully solutions buried deeply within them, waiting to be activated. This is what the appropriate use of questions helps to achieve. Also, one might have thought about what could be the very answer to a problem or a challenge, but still only have it foggy in mind and unsure about how it applies to actually solving a problem. A leader with a coach’s mindset, using the right questions will be able to also serve as a sounding board to help gain clarity of thought in solving a problem or dealing with a challenge.

Effective questioning would also be used by a good coach to challenge or encourage people into the habit of taking responsibility. The use of a question as simple as “so what are you going to do about it?” after listening to the naration of a problem, will wake a person up to the fact that he/she will have to take responsibility and act to solve a problem at the end of the day.


Hmm… this one is far too real for me to comment on, so let me just say thanks for spelling the issue out in a different but real way…
I’m also liking the graphic art you used!

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