There’s a lot of pressure on leaders these days…so much change, so many demands, so much uncertainty. And often, an expectation that the leader will have all the answers.
But the truth is that it’s more important for a leader to ask the right questions than to have all the answers. It helps ensure that you uncover all the challenges your team is facing and that you explore all possible solutions to those challenges.
Asking questions helps to avoid judgment by establishing a learning climate within the organization. Questions keep you focused on the vision and the big picture, which is where the leader’s attention should be.
When leaders ask questions, it encourages team members to take ownership for solving problems and to have a role in decision-making. Of course, it’s important to ask the right questions if you want to lead your team to success.
Here are 5 key questions every leader should ask:
What’s the current situation? – Asking this question at the outset of a project, the beginning of a meeting or when a challenge presents itself is an essential first step, Asking this question avoids making assumptions that could lead your team down the wrong path and ensures that everyone enters the process with the same understanding.
What’s next? – This question invites team members to offer options for next steps and provide clues about the preferences and biases that may lead to conflict or limit possible solutions.
What if? – By asking “what if,” you encourage the team to explore possible choices and identify challenges or barriers that might get in the way of success. It also allows you to offer ideas that the team may not have considered without expressing judgment or appearing too directive.
What do we need? – As the leader you are responsible for making sure that the team has the tools and resources necessary to complete the job and meet the goal. Asking this question demonstrates that you are concerned about the team and encourages the team to be creative and resourceful in solving problems and identifying solutions.
What else? – This question offers the team another chance to explore opportunities and options and to make certain that they have fully examined the situation that they are facing. It also signals that as a leader you remain open to new thoughts and additional input.
When you ask these questions as a leader, you create a climate of inclusion, openness, trust and learning that sets the stage for your team and your business.
You don’t need to have all the answers. Instead, ask questions…the right questions…and watch your team achieve amazing results.