Questions are the secret sauce that leads to big and small successes.
Over the years, I’ve led, advised, and mentored hundreds of people. Most of the time, people want to know how to wrestle with a challenge or perplexing problem at work. Often, they are in a hurry.
That is how I spent a great deal of time in my career – I’m decisive and that can be a great attribute. But I’m also impatient and sometimes need to take the time to ask more questions before taking action.
So, I’ll say it again: Questions are the secret sauce that leads to big and small successes.
They ignite new paths of thinking, challenge assumptions, and encourage us to reach beyond what we think we already know.
Questions help build and grow trust and relationships.
Surveys show two of the top skills that companies want from senior and emerging leaders are good listening and analytic skills. When you make a point of asking questions, you are becoming a better listener, and you open up new channels of information.
Whether you are an entrepreneur, seasoned executive, middle manager, or new professional, your questions can make you or break you. Frequently, the process of asking questions and digging for answers uncovers rich treasure that would otherwise remain buried.
Questions spark transformation in individuals, teams, projects, and whole companies.
Asking questions is also an under-appreciated and underutilized team-building skill that encourages others to ask and THINK.
Good leaders ask a lot of questions because it models that it is good to be curious, that no one is expected to know everything, and that all are welcome to ask, seek, and find.
And, if you’re really concerned about the direction of a project or initiative, asking questions can be more effective (and even more subversive) than making statements.
Experts know that in conversation, the advantage goes to the one who is listening, not the one doing all the talking!
Surprisingly, there are many questions you can ask in nearly every situation.
Here are 20; cherrypick from these today and this week in your projects. And remember: the truth is, if you don’t ask enough questions, you may never achieve the potential of your opportunities or challenges.
1. Did you (or we, or they) arrive at this decision or result by logic, intuition, or both? What’s the evidence to support the decision or direction?
2. What problem are we solving for our customer? What’s in it for them? How are we adding value?
3. Where is the leverage of this idea or direction? How does it intersect with our other goals or objectives?
4. How do we measure this? In real terms, how do we quantify the effort and outcome?
5. What will it cost in terms of time, human, and financial resources?
6. Could we achieve this better with a partner? Who is (or are) the ideal partner(s)?
7. What’s the risk if we don’t do this?
8. What’s the risk if we fail? What is the worst thing that can happen?
9. Are we close enough to our customers? Who on our team is close to our customer, and what can they tell us? Can we collaborate?
10. What do we stand for and what do we stand against? How can this decision or project affirm this?
11. What do we need to start doing?
12. Can you or I explain this product, service, direction to my mother? (This was a favorite one we used in the early days of AOL, when the idea of connecting with people, businesses, and customers online was so new!)
13. How can we test this idea before committing more resources to it?
14. Do the managers of the team believe more in the team’s potential than the team does?
15. Are there stupid rules we need to kill? Assumptions that sounded right, but are not being proven through our experiences?
16. Have our competitors tried this? What can we learn from them?
17. Who needs to be thanked for getting us into this line of inquiry?
18. Who needs to be encouraged/persuaded to invest in this?
19. How can we quantify and communicate the benefits of this approach?
20. If we had unlimited resources, what would be possible here?
Questions are powerful; discover more here.
What are some of the best questions you or your team members have asked?
This article was previously published on LinkedIn