Asking questions is a crucial leadership skill that is frequently undervalued. Leaders often feel under pressure to have all the answers in today’s fast-paced environment, where decisions are expected quickly. This pressure can sometimes cause them to jump to conclusions rather than be curious about the problem. However, pressure and haste are not conducive to good decision-making.
Leadership is not about having all the answers. It is about asking questions, conveying that you do not have all the answers, and soliciting help from others to find them. This approach may seem nerve-wracking to some leaders as they fear it will make them appear incompetent, but it is a signal to others that you trust them, and you are more likely to be trusted in return.
Good questions help leaders learn more about the issue at hand, unlock hidden opportunities, mitigate unforeseen risks, and deliver better results.
Asking questions can help explore related aspects of the problem that can potentially get lost in urgency to get to the solution.
Questions help dive deeper to understand the root cause of the problem and increase the quality of decisions.
Questions can raise broader issues and highlight the bigger picture, enabling leaders to zoom out and see the connections between individual problems.
Questions help us better understand what has been said. When leaders ask questions, it fosters smoother and more effective interactions, builds rapport and trust, and leads groups to collective discovery.
By involving others and inviting collaboration, questions bring people together. During volatile times, collaboration and collective problem-solving can go a long way to reduce anxiety and increase trust and loyalty.
People with the skill of asking questions are seen as more empathetic. They lower the threshold for others to speak up, thereby creating more inclusive organizations.
Leaders can also use questions as a tool to broaden or deepen the thinking of their team members, challenge limiting beliefs, and uncover blind spots. This increases the team’s capacity and empowers them, as opposed to the directive (command and control) approach, which results in learned helplessness.
Questions engage the brain and promote initiative and accountability. They are an excellent tool for team development.
In conclusion, asking questions is a powerful leadership skill that can lead to better decision-making, increase trust and loyalty, and foster empathy. Leaders who take the time to ask questions can uncover hidden opportunities, mitigate unforeseen risks, and solve the most confounding problems. In addition, asking questions can lead to personal development and growth, allowing leaders to propel their careers and teams to new heights.