One of my mentors once said, “The quality of your questions will determine the quality of your life.” I return to that wisdom almost daily as I explore new questions for my own leadership as well as the leadership of my executive coaching clients.
So, what is the quality of your questions? Are you naturally curious or do you shy away from asking questions?
Many leaders do not ask enough questions and, when they do, they tend to be “why” questions asking people to explain themselves - they are not questions that can truly clarify, expand or progress a situation.
Let’s explore what makes a question powerful and how you can ask better questions to get better results.
A powerful question is one that:
Clarifies thinking for yourself and others
Expands what the other person is thinking or doing
Invites new possibilities and perspectives
Encourages deeper thinking or exploration
Progresses a situation
Grows and develops a person
Take a moment and reflect on the last conversation you had. Did you make statements and/or ask questions? What was the ratio of statements to questions? What was the quality of the questions?
Let me provide a few examples of questions to illustrate the difference:
The level of focus and specificity is critical to asking better questions and getting better results. Our brain requires specific focal points to organize thinking and action around.
In the upcoming week, begin to notice your questions. See the practice below for more specifics.
I look forward to hearing your feedback!
Weekly Uplevel Practice
Pick three conversations you will have in the upcoming week:
Reflect on your statement/question ratio and see if you can move it to 50:50 so it’s a mix of both.
Consider the conversation then write down at least three questions you can ask. Once you have done that, review them and ensure are specific enough and fall into the “ better question” category.
Bring those better questions to your conversations and notice what happens.