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Why You Should Ask Questions

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

What You Risk Losing When You Don't

If there is one thing we can learn from kids, it is the audacity to ask about and for anything (and expect the answer too).

Asking is one of the greatest leadership tools, yet too few use it. Why? Because culture told us that being at the top means being the expert (and experts know, they don't ask).

So leaders either make assumptions or charge forward in ignorance.

Greater than the risk of being seen as less than the perfect, all-knowing source of all knowledge, is the risk you would put yourself, others, organizations, and even nations under, for carrying everything on your own shoulders.

When leaders don't ask questions they:

1. Take their team and organization in a direction that they would not have, had they first taken time to ask themselves, and others questions on the soundness of the move.

This is why regardless of what it may look like, in strategic planning, we encounter tools such as the S.W.O.T., P.E.S.T.L.E., and Porter's 5 Forces. They help us ask the right questions, then from the answers, synthesize and analyze data that will help us make informed decisions on whether or not to move ahead on a determined course of action.

2. Assume others' thoughts and intentions and act on those assumptions as if they are fact, to the detriment of relational and professional outcomes.

Unless you are God, you have no way of knowing for sure what a person thinks and feels, nor why they do.

In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey told a story of a man that came into a quiet train carriage with what felt to others to be completely out-of-hand children. While his children shouted and moved about, clearly disturbing other passengers, people looked at the man, wondering why he did nothing to reign in his unruly kids.

Stephen Covey then revealed that the man and his children had just come from the hospital where his wife had died. He was in shock, the kids were in shock, and neither were in a state to remember social etiquette.

Had the other passengers known that, they may have responded to the man and his children with greater understanding.

If you have ever exclaimed, "Oh, now I see !", or its close cousin, "Man! I really messed that up!", you know that there is a high probability that if you don't ask, you will make a misinformed decision (because you miss critical information).

NO matter how great you think you are at reading people, if you sense something is out of whack, don't assume something is, nor diagnose what that "something" is. Ask for private audience with the person, and ask.

You would be surprised how many times you will learn something new, and often completely different from what you assumed.

3. Take on a load that is too heavy to bear alone.

Few leaders have mastered the art of asking for help. If I were to ask you how readily you ask for help, if you answer, "Oh, I jump to it!", then you are one of the few leaders that do.

Remember that: John C. Maxwell, the world's leading leadership expert wrote the book, "Good Leaders Ask Great Questions". It turns out that asking questions is the first step to leading well.

“Leadership is Influence. Nothing more and nothing less.”

-John C. Maxwell.

Rather than see yourself as a teacher, view yourself as a coach. What this will do is ease the burden of having all the answers, and instead help you ask questions of others to help share the load by inviting them to think through the problem and come up with solutions they will own (and be more likely to implement).

You are One Question Closer to Your Answer

If it is true that we are only six degrees of separation from anyone in the world, whatever you don't know, and your immediate circle cannot have resolved in your team, caste your line farther, and ask a second and third connection, that can ask theirs, and so on. In this global village, it won't take long before you find someone, somewhere who can help.

John C. Maxwell, the world's leading leadership expert wrote the book, "Good Leaders Ask Great Questions".

In it, he shares great personal, team, organizational, relational, and impact-related questions a leader should ask themselves and others to be able to lead well.

He chooses his personal, relational, professional, and financial investment based on the answers to the questions he asks himself and others. If the answers don't align with his values and mission, he invests no time, energy, or finances to it.

Where are you stuck on your leadership? Learn from kids and John C. Maxwell, and ask quality questions.

If asking is uncomfortable for you, start with someone, or Google, or YouTube, or Siri.

You may be just one question closer to your answer.

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