Three Disruptive Questions for Leaders

A couple of weeks ago, I was challenged to provide five minutes of content that would make a difference for leaders.

Because of the power of questions, I decided to come up with three questions that are easy to explain but would have a lot of power. Here’s what I presented:

Leaders move fast and push for results.

Whereas this may be viewed as a positive for leaders, it actually keeps them from curiosity and fully appreciating and valuing what others have to offer. The best way to move past judging is to ask questions—being humble and curious. What would happen if leaders were fully and truly present, humble, and curious?

Below are three questions to ask. All three fulfill two functions:

  1. You, the leader, move past judging into understanding.
  2. You model and practice humility and curiosity, improving your habits and promoting them in others.

Question one:

What does support from me look like?

We all believe that we support our people, but do we know what that looks like from their point of view? What if we trust them to tell us what they need to do their best work?

Question two:

How can I be even easier to work with?

Key words here—“even easier.” Without those words, you’ll likely get an answer like, “You’re already easy to work with.”

Question three:

What is something I don’t notice around here?

To avoid gossip, this question is best asked later in a conversation, rather than earlier. It also requires you to wholly present.

To get the most out of these questions and the rich conversations that can follow, follow these three important rules:

  1. Listen to understand, without interruption, explanation, or defensiveness. Just listen.
  2. Take handwritten notes.
  3. Say, “Thank you. That’s really helpful.”

These three rules create safety and make it clear you’re listening to learn and not to defend or enact an agenda.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

Thank you to everyone who read and supported the blog in 2019. It has been a wonderful year. This post is the last one of 2019, but don’t worry. We have more to share beginning January 8, 2020. We hope everyone enjoys the holiday season, and we’ll see you again in 2020!

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