Insights and inspiration to help you continually grow in your leadership roles within your organization and community.

The Power of Questions for Leaders

I have recently been thinking a lot about questions. A trip to Chicago earlier this year and a workshop for my church here in McKinney, TX, reminded me of the power of questions for both leaders and those they lead.

Insights from my experience last week, and in working with hundreds of teams and coaching numerous leaders, tell me that the following pro tips might be worth sharing:

  1. As you finish a key point, think hard and long about exactly what question will lead to the deep insights or dialogue you seek. Avoid general questions like, “Well, what do you think?” Instead, plan out a series of questions that promote self-discovery and transparent sharing of needed information. Look for ways to get your conversation partner to contribute freely and richly.
  2. Avoid the tendency to “stack questions.” When leaders are nervous or not fully prepared, they often go with a shotgun shell approach, hoping that one of the numerous questions will hit the mark. Exemplary leaders use a rifle shot and ask just the right question in just the right way, leaving time for a thoughtful response.
  3. Look for and acknowledge the emotion in the room when needed. We work with people, not machines. People sometimes experience strong emotions triggered by things happening within the organization or in their personal lives. Sometimes we rush to move straight into the business topics and fail to acknowledge the emotion in the room.

A great way to build trust and create safety is to step out of the planned conversation and ask a check-in question. Perhaps something simple like, “I see you seem to be [label what you see]. How can I support you?” or “Please share how you are doing overall—personally and professionally.” Once you have provided the space to process, you may have the very information you need to proceed with the conversation.

This month, I challenge you to focus on your questions as you lead.

When you get better at asking just the right question in just the right way at just the right time, your conversations with others will be more vibrant, thoughtful, and meaningful.

Possible resource for questions –


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