11 August 2011

Leadership - The Importance of Asking Questions.

The trouble with being a leader is that you're expected to know all the answers. But, effective leadership is really not about having all the answers. The secret of being an effective leader is the ability to ask questions. Sometimes you need to ask yourself the right questions and at other times you need to ask other people.The skill here is knowing the right questions to ask and to ask them  at the right time.  The ability to ask questions - and to listen to the answers you get - is one of the most seriously underrated skills not just of leadership but of  the whole sphere of human relations.
Robert Kaplan of the Harvard Business School in his excellent book Looking in the Mirror: Questions Every Leader Must Ask argues that framing a question and listening can be enormously powerful in leading to excellent decisions.
Examples of powerful questions are as follows:
Have you developed a clear vision and priorities for your enterprise? How have you communicated this?
How does the way you spend your time match your key priorities?
How do you actively seek feedback from your key direct reports? Do you listen to what they tell you?
If you had to change your enterprise today with a clean sheet of paper, what would you do differently?
How do you act as a role model?
How do you know you are reaching your potential and being true to yourself?

Of course these questions don't just apply to top leaders. They apply to all of us in all walks of life. I'd be really interested in hearing from you about how these questions - and the answers you get - can make a difference to you and those around you.

1 comment:

  1. Before we can have better answers, we need better questions. This is very visible in the wake of the UK riots.


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