Starting my career as a journalist, I learned the power of a great, perfectly timed question. As I moved into leadership roles, I realised my job boiled down to three things:
Giving generously of my time and attention.
Listening with empathy.
Asking great questions.
I believe the quality of my leadership can be measured by the quality of the questions I ask.
Here are my top tips for asking better questions as a leader and coach:
Be insatiably curious
It’s how we learn, grow and build relationships.
Think 5Ws& an H
Open questions starting with Who, What, Where, When, Why and How to encourage people to think more deeply.
Ask questions that help people discover for themselves different perspectives and options.
Why questions work
Our brains are hard-wired to answer questions. If you’ve ever had the experience of being asked to recall someone’s name and being unable to do so in the moment then, at 3 a.m., waking up with the name on the tip of your tongue, that’s the brain subconsciously continuing to seek the answer for you. Brains love questions!
Asking questions benefits to both partners in a conversation.
For the leader, it builds knowledge, grows to understand, nurtures the relationship and sets an example for the team to follow.
For the team, asking questions lets people know they are valued, stimulates their thinking, helps them explore options and forges a more reliable connection.
12 questions to ask right now
2020 has been a year like no other. The impact of natural events like the prolonged drought in some parts of Australia and the widespread bushfires are still being felt. On top of that, we have the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asking great questions has never been more critical. Here are 12 questions you can ask your team to understand how they’re feeling, support them better and refocus their attention on what they can control in the months ahead:
How are you feeling about everything that’s happened this year?
What has it meant for you personally? And for those closest to you?
Thinking about all the changes in how we work, what changes have made us better?
What are you doing to stay connected?
Through this period, who on the team has made others better? How?
Looking back, what are you most proud of so far this year?
How are you celebrating the good stuff?
As / when restrictions ease, what are you most looking forward to?
What are you planning to achieve by Christmas?
What challenges do you see ahead? How are you preparing for them?
How can I help? What do you need most from me right now?
What’s one thing the organisation could change that would make your life easier?