Do you aspire to be a good leader? Like many, you may be under the impression that being a good leader requires that you have all the answers. After all, others look to leaders for guidance and direction. But, leadership is less about having all the answers and more about asking all the right questions:
1. Provides clear direction: Have you ever spent hours working on a project to then determine that what you produced wasn't what was required? Have you ever executed on a plan to discover that you were going in the wrong direction? It can be frustrating. But, setbacks and failure can be avoided by asking the right questions. When taking on a new project, it is important that we not make any assumptions. Rather, we need to ask as many questions as possible to be clear on what the desired outcome is.
2. Increases your knowledge: Knowledge is power. The more you know, the more effective you can be as a leader. In school, we are taught to learn through extensive study and reading books. But, the most powerful learning occurs when our curiosity is piqued and we ask insightful questions. As we progress in our leadership journeys, knowledge informs our experience. Questions become essential to building our knowledge base and sharpening our leadership skills.
3. Enhances your ability to influence and persuade: Persuasion and influence are important leadership attributes. Asking the right questions can enhance a leader's ability to influence and persuade. For example, trial lawyers spend countless hours learning how to build a case simply by asking questions. The right questions can elicit responses that broaden perspectives and influence opinions.
4. Promotes engagement: Team members often get frustrated when they are not asked for their opinions or perspectives -- especially on subjects that they are experts in. Asking questions increases engagement. When team members are engaged, they feel valued and appreciated. A good leader, therefore, takes the time to ask appropriate questions. The right questions spark creative thinking and foster collaboration. As a result, team members feel empowered and more committed to their work. Engaging team members can begin with simple questions like:
- What do you think?
- How are things going?
- How can we do better?
- How can I help you?
5. Helps you make better decisions: In today's global marketplace, leaders are faced with increasingly complex issues. The higher level of complexity requires a higher level of thought to make more effective decisions. Arriving at a wrong conclusion because you do not have the right facts can hurt your credibility as a leader. It is, therefore, important to gather the pertinent facts surrounding an issue by asking the right questions.
Asking the right questions is an essential skill in the workplace. If you ask the right questions, you will become more effective as a leader.
Ellie Nieves, JD, MBA, develops webinars, seminars, and coaching programs to help women show up, speak up, and step up in their careers and personal lives. She is also the host of the Leadership Strategies for Women Podcast where she shares success tips to help women achieve more both personally and professionally. To learn more, go to: www.EllieNieves.com.