In This Issue
Encouraging Questions: The Key To Success As A Leader
Encouraging Questions—The Key To Success As A Leader
Asking, "Does anyone have any questions?" after each agenda
item at a staff meeting is pretty normal. It's also pretty normal for no one to
ask any questions. And, hey, who
wants to prolong a staff meeting?
But whether it's a staff meeting, an informal chat over lunch or the end
of an important one-on-one with a member of your staff, you can extend energy
and encourage their questions. Here's how:
- Pause in silence. Allow time to think of the question, to find the words
and to get comfortable/confident asking it. Too often asking a question in
front of managers and associates is a humbling experience. It need not be.
The opportunities you allow your employees to ask and be comfortable in doing
so reduce that humbling effect.
- Expand the invitation. Don't stop after "Does anyone have any...?"
Help employees think of their questions by asking more specifically. "What
do we need to ask about implementing...?" "What questions do we have
about this new schedule...?" And, again, allow adequate time for the
questions to emerge.
- Accept statements. The employee's questions may appear as statements.
Some people are more comfortable stating what they want to know. Their
curiosity represents questions even if they are not asked. You may ask
questions like "What are we all curious (concerned, bothered, interested)
by any aspect of this realignment?"
Great questions are always
the keys to success. By asking
questions, we unearth thoughts and feelings that exist but are not present in
the dialog. Encouraging others to
do the same is an essential element of being an effective leader.
In fact, in our Coaching
practice, we routinely tell managers and executives that what they know about a
given subject or situation is kind of a "so what". What is really valuable is what others
know. What we know can be valuable
when others do not share that specific knowledge but what others know and how
they express it is where we learn about their capabilities, style, attitudes
and abilities to execute effectively.
In face-to-face meetings, on
videoconferences or teleconferences, do not be intimidated by silence. Regardless of the wonders of all the
technology, people still need time to contemplate. Don't be in such a rush. Remember, an important element of your job is to facilitate
the dialog. Help people learn from
others. Help your team members
problem solve together.
And, yes, help your team
members challenge you. Who knows,
someone on the team just may have a better idea.