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The Leadership Quest Blog

Ask More Questions

March 21, 2018

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As leaders, we think that our job is to provide all of the answers. What most leaders forget is to ask more questions.

Your value as a leader is directly determined by the amount of information you gather, not by the information you dispense; leadership can be measured by the quality of the questions you ask, not by the amount of answers or specific direction you give.

Be sure not to mind read, and always follow the rule of 70/30. Listen 70% of the time and speak 30%.

Here are a couple effective techniques that you can start using today to improve your communication skills as a leader:

Reversing. This is the art of answering a question with a question of your own and can be done with a simple formula: start with a softening statement and end with a question. Here are a few examples of what reversing can sound like:

“Listen, John, I appreciate that question. Why are you bringing that up now?”

“Mary, that is interesting. Tell me what your thoughts are on that subject?”

By reversing a question, you are portrayed as someone who strives to learn and gain more information.

Pay attention to wishy-washy words. When someone you’re coaching or leading replies with a think it over statement, make sure to pay attention to vague statements.

Here is what you can reply to an “I’ll think it over” statement:

“Henry, when you say think it over, tell me one of the specific things aspects you need to consider?”

Here is what you can reply to an “I’ll get back to you” statement:

“Great, I was hoping that you would say that. Do you have a date in mind?”

Ask open-ended questions. You do not want to ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Ask questions that reveal descriptive information. These questions typically start with why, what, who, when, and how. Some examples include:

“What have you tried or considered in the past that worked?”

“How will you prepare for that?”

“When will you communicate with your key stakeholders?”

“How will we measure the success of this project?”

The art of asking questions is essential to every business leader. Your value as a leader is determined by the quality of your questions.

Do you need help with these leadership behaviors, or have a question? Email me: 

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