Monday, January 13, 2014

Leadership A-Z: Q is for Questions

Today's leadership a-z brings us to the letter Q for Questions. Questions form the backbone in any coaching, leadership and/or mentoring conversation. 

In your conversations leaders will want to consider:

1. What is the purpose of the question? To get  more information, background, to support the employee to self-discover or acquire new knowledge?

2. The length of your question. The best questions are often the shortest questions. Notice the impact of shorter versus longer questions. Five to six words may be a good length.

3. Notice the difference in the way you start asking your question:
HOW - questions tend to put people into a thinking, process mode. Not always the best place to start a conversation?
WHY - questions may put people immediately on the defensive if trust does not exist. Once a relationship is formed there can be great power in connecting people with their WHY, or their bigger purpose. Be aware of the distinction between asking someone WHY they did it, versus "What's the Why or purpose driving your actions"
WHAT - What questions are often very good at opening up an expanse for action and reflection.

Visit our site to download 20 questions every leader can incorporate into their dialogue with staff.

4. How open-ended is the question - Open-ended questions invite conversation, exploration, discovery and learning. Closed questions, Yes/No, questions limit this. Be aware of when open-ended questions can expand the conversation.

A great resource you may wish to look at regarding this topic is 

Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions By Knowing What To Ask by Michael Marquardt

Have a great start to your week!
Jennifer Britton, MES, CPT, PCC
Author of Effective Group Coaching and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (Jossey-Bass, 2013)
(416)996-TEAM (836)

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