Even though most business leaders have years of experience and confidence in their knowledge and abilities, knowing that they don’t always have the right answers is a critical skill all great leaders must develop. They not only need to ask the right questions of their employees, vendors, clients, and partners but they also need to constantly question how they can improve their own performance and ways of doing things. They also definitely need to be open to hearing and utilizing suggestions from others.
The leader’s approach to asking questions should inspire deeper thinking, creativity, and curiosity in his or her employees. Instead of just telling his or her employees what to do and providing direction if needed, the most important thing a leader needs to do is to ask questions and have dialogue with them. This will allow more junior leaders to come up with their own ideas about how projects can be improved and completed more efficiently. This in turn will help these junior leaders to learn more and take more ownership of their projects, leading to increased confidence in their own abilities. It is also good to question how a project could have been accomplished more efficiently after it is completed. Many times the members of a team move on to the next project without spending the time providing constructive feedback and thinking about how things can be improved when the next project comes along for them.
It is also important for great leaders to ask questions about their organizations as whole systems. These leaders need to constantly look for ways that their entire organizations can function more effectively. Are all of the right processes in place? Can any of the processes in place be improved, and how should these improvements be accomplished? How does the organization retain stellar performers and continue to give them challenges to keep them motivated? How does the organization compete with other companies? Knowing how to ask these questions in constructive and non-threatening ways is a critical skill for great leaders.
Think about the following as it relates to you and your employees… Are you asking the right questions that inspire deeper thinking, creativity, and curiosity? Do you question things even if your organization is running smoothly? When was the last time you asked for feedback? Did you really listen to the feedback and incorporate any of the suggestions made?
Other “Q” words to ponder – Quality and Quantitative.
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