“In fact, the most effective approach is simply to ask questions. We can ignore directives, but questions force us to attend to them. In the corporate world, most of us are so used to being told what to do that when someone asks us what we think we should do, it stops our automatic processing in its tracks.
Rather than telling people, we should ask them, whether it’s deciding how to implement a strategy, setting objectives, or evaluating performance. The effect of a question may not be as stunning as glasses made out of burning cigarettes, but it will activate the brain and get it working the way we need it to.” Psychology Today
Those two paragraphs that were printed in Psychology Today represent the new model of leadership. In the past leadership was in many cases more of a request than a question.
Everyone today should be thinking about themselves as a leader and a person who asks questions. Questions allow the receiver of the question to create (notice “create”) an answer in response. The old way was “request” and “react” and the new way is “question” and “respond”. Think about it, what makes you feel more empowered? Is it a request or is it a question that you get to answer.
Think about questions in the workplace. When do you feel empowered? Do you feel empowered when you are “told” to do something or do you feel empowered when you are asked, “How could you solve this problem?”. For most people it is the second approach, it is their idea, it is their solution and that is empowering.
Look at any organization that is not functioning at their full potential. What do you hear? Do you hear questions or requests? More than likely you are hearing requests more than you are hearing questions.
New managers want to manage. They are being asked “lead” your team to success and immediately they are requesting rather than asking empowering questions.
Now, take this to your world, your sphere of influence, what does that look like to you. Is it a world of questions or requests. If it is requests see what you can do to change it to questions and see what happens.
“Questions focus our thinking. Ask empowering questions like: What’s good about this? What’s not perfect about it yet? What am I going to do next time? How can I do this and have fun doing it?” Charles Connolly