If I told you there was a way to be a better leader AND be someone who works less but gets more done, you’d want to know more, right?
OK, here goes. And at the end, I’ve got a free resource to further support you.
Much of business is about solutions. That’s our achievement mindset.
You’re tasked with finding solutions, creating solutions, and generally being solution-focused.
With all this task-driven achievement people can often think that questions are the opposite of solutions. And therefore, in some way, bad. We’ve all had the boss who yells something back at us like, ‘I don’t have time for questions! Just get it done!’ Perhaps, you’ve done the same.
Brainstormed Questions Created Instagram
Consider the case of Instagram. In this article on the early days of the company — actually titled “Brainstorm questions, not solutions” — Kevin Systrom and his co-founders talk about one of their first steps. They sat down and wrote every problem with mobile photography, attaching question after question to the issues. These areas rose to the top:
- Lackluster photos
- Lengthy upload times
The brainstormed questions led to an app that changed the face of photography, was acquired by Facebook, and has 500 million active users. If you’re a person motivated by money, Kevin Systrom is now worth $400 million, if not more. Before he sat down and brainstormed questions? He was worth a lot less.
Powerful Questions Get Valuable Intel
There’s been much research on the power of effective questions at work. For example: 88 percent of the most-rewarded and appreciated business projects begin with a question: “What difference could I make that other people would love?” And while we spend thousands on technology and research (overblown engagement surveys, anyone) designed to capture employee ideas, one of the most deceptively simple ways I’ve found to gather employee intel is just to ask them smart questions. Do you ask?
Curiosity May Have Killed The Cat But It Enlivens The Leader
The power of asking questions is also tied to this idea: curiosity. Some have argued curiosity is more important than intelligence in a business context. Why? Curious people — who tend to ask more questions about process, expectation and broader purpose — are more comfortable with ambiguity. Modern business environments are often rooted in ambiguity, so having teams comfortable with that is an advantage.
How To Ask Better Questions
Now comes the hard part: as a leader how do you ask better questions? Take the coach approach.
This is where I can help. I did a webinar recently entitled ‘3 Step Coaching Formula For Non-Coaches.’ I shared a formula I’ve devised in working with clients. It’s pretty simple — you might see similar things from other coaches — but it puts aside a lot of the BS sometimes associated with being a more effective leader. The three steps are:
- Stop giving advice
- Ask, don’t tell
- Follow the 80/20 rule
Oh, I also revealed, my ‘bonus’ step called W.A.I.T. Yep, that’s an acronym. It stands for something you’ve probably thought a few times about yourself — and probably your boss too.
Why am I talking?
Edit that to “Why am I still talking?” if you’d like.
Modern Leaders Know Coaching Questions Get Results
Coaching is about adopting modern leadership practices, being a better listener and asking the right questions. Whereas, old school leadership is about driving for solutions and practicing command and control. Essentially telling others what to do.
And you know how I feel about that: It’s the wrong approach.
As for the ‘work less, get more done’ concept I mentioned above: coaching, rooted in questions, dialogue and mindful listening, has been shown to more effectively empower teams in hundreds of research studies. When you more effectively empower teams, you’re essentially delegating the way delegation should be done. And that’s been shown to be tied to higher earnings (yay). You’re achieving more (money, tasks completed) but personally doing less. As Tina Fey might say, ‘I want to go to there.’
Get Your Questions Cheat Sheet
I’ve got a free resource for you on asking better questions. It’s in two parts: Part 1 covers how to ask questions and Part 2 gives you a list of good coaching questions.I hope you find it helpful!
And if you’re keen to go deeper on this subject join me for my Lead + Live Better™Intensive. It’s an online, interactive leadership program designed to help you transform your leadership and life in 6 weeks. There’s only a few spaces left.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me — and be on the lookout in 2017 for my next Coaching webinar.
About Lisa Martin, PCC
I help high achievers – people like you – Lead + Live Better™. I support new and seasoned leaders to gain the clarity and confidence to work more effectively and have more impact. And I equip organizations with leadership development programs which cultivate amazing leaders at every level.
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