Great Leaders Ask Questions.

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Many of today’s organisations and even our personal modes of thinking are based on an achievement orientation, meritocracy and sense of competitiveness.

When viewed on a continuum, these attributes certainly helped propel modern society from a feudal, hierarchical state and bring about huge advancements in innovation and accountability, and improved levels of equality.

But these traits have masked society’s unconsciousness in certain areas. For example, this kind of thinking is more likely to lead to a siloed mentality, the notion that for one person to be right another needs to be wrong, people are put in boxes – humans are ‘resources’ to be ‘managed’ in this model, we busy ourselves building plans and blueprints for things that may not necessarily add value only to meet budgets and excel spreadsheets with fictitious forecasts.

And where you have unconsciousness, you have Ego.

Ego finds its home in unconsciousness.

One of the main aims of ego is to look good – intelligent, clever, in control, funny, productive – in front of others. In this mode, leaders find it paramount to have answers, they have been trained to provide direction to their teams, and direction means providing solutions and having a plan in order to look competent.

Emerging Leadership

On the other hand, emerging modes of thinking require mental strength, empathy and self-esteem to allow ourselves to feel vulnerable and open to collaboration.

Leadership in this new mode is about creating space for others to contribute and collaborate. It is having the confidence to recognise that you may not always have the best answer.

The best leaders I have worked with focus on questions, not answers.

By asking the right questions, strong leaders facilitate dialogue which contributes to a creative solution. Having a questioning mindset is recognition that the germ of your great idea, when combined with other ideas can sprout into something much more powerful.

Questions empower others to raise their true voice. Rather than feeling stuck in a silo, people feel heard and valued, leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

Asking questions opens up space for the team to have a sense of ownership of the process and this ensures that people are motivated to contribute and work together to develop the right solutions.

Leadership is about having the generosity of spirit and confidence of character to work together and not always needing to be the star of the show.

Depending on your category, here are some ways you can facilitate a team discussion by framing questions in the following manner:

How might we think about this from a product design point of view?

What inconvenience can make better for our customer?

What can we borrow from (insert another category than the one you usually work in)?

What if we turned back the clock and redesigned our customer experience?

I wonder what would happen if we transformed our thinking about this from a communication to a customer service approach

I hope this post has helped you begin to transform the way you, your team and your organisation view leadership.

Have a purposeful day!

Brenda.

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