Leading by asking the right questions – 3 ways to do it well

More Questions Than Answers
More Questions Than Answers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a leader/manager, it is ineffective to constantly hold someone by the hand through an entire process. All you will create is a long term executive-toddler for yourself and the organisation… And the last thing you want to do is to babysit them.

Leading with questions is perhaps the most effective way of managing people, as the Socratic process of getting people to think more deeply about their work becomes the agent through which excellent work is distinguished from both mere good work or the plain mediocre.

There are 3 ways to lead with questions.

One, when presented with the context of the issue or problem, immediately opt for a helicopter view of the situation. The questions asked at this stage should probe for answers pertaining to missing facts to help narrow down your decision-making.

Two, once you have obtained the facts of the case through questions, identify possible gaps in the treatment of the issue through questions. Don’t disclose answers even if you are tempted to do so. Remember, guide the thinking process. Provide more information if necessary. The staff may have missed a critical detail that is obvious to you at your level but not to the staff, or that the staff is not positioned sufficiently to receive information that has not been disclosed at his level / pay grade yet.

Three, ask questions to solicit feedback about the issue and about the performance of the staff. There are key learning points to be taken away each time there is an engagement.



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