September 26, 2019

The Future of Leadership: Ask More Questions, Give Less Answers

With AI, Automation and Reskilling becoming the new normal for today’s workforce, the old styles of leadership have started to become obsolete. Leaders are compelled to get out of their comfort zone and seek better solutions to meet the new paradigm of challenges.

To be successful in this new digital age, you need to know how to motivate your people to change their mindset and drive creative thinking within the organisation through empathy and emotional intelligence.

One way of cultivating the ability to think creatively is by asking questions that foster curiosity. A good question speaks to the human brain. It helps the neurons to function in new ways that nurture the motivation to take action.

Here are some benefits of asking more questions and giving less answers:

· It enables you to see new perspective different from your point of view

· It boosts curiosity and creativity that triggers motivation for your team

· It helps you learn the new and unlearn the old. Asking questions puts you in a position to learn which normally doesn’t happen when you’re the one giving the answers

Organizational culture can be reflected in how people handle questions. Organisations that struggle to change and transform are most likely the ones that ask very few questions.

As a leader, you don’t need to have answers to everything and don’t have to pretend to know it all. Leadership is not about having all the answers. It’s about knowing how to find the answers by asking the right questions. Asking the right questions will not only help you build deeper connections and higher engagement with your team but challenge your own preconceived biases and age-old styles and beliefs.

Your questions will encourage your team to consider beyond the easy mediocre solutions. When solutions are easily available, it doesn’t promote thinking out of the box. It is found that 95% of people don’t check past Google’s page one results.

Let’s look at four ways how you can ask better questions as a leader:

1. Always be Curious

When you talk too much, you don’t have time to listen to your team. Some leaders believe that speaking first or last is the trademark of a strong leader, which is not true. It only blocks your team from going beyond the existing norms. Curiosity helps in asking better questions. It helps in building the passion to drive your mind into a journey of finding the best answers. Without curiosity, it is easy to end up with easily available options based on existing patterns. Making conclusions too early does not give the best solutions.

2. Ask Open-Ended questions

Asking your team not just about facts and figures but also their thoughts and opinion is a good way to find new perspective and ideas. Open-ended questions allow your mind to receive new thoughts without being judgmental or bias. The blend of new thoughts from your team can help you achieve better solutions and build stronger relationships.

3. Show Engagement

Engagement is most likely the most important ingredient in conversation. Many leaders ask questions without the patience to listen. From body language to facial expressions, showing genuine interest to listen helps people give better answers because they feel valued and accepted. As much as it makes people feel good about themselves, it also improves your communication skills.

4. Ask with Empathy

Empathy helps us understand how people feel, even when they don’t share. Many times leaders expect their team to be transparent and share everything, good and bad, with them. But most often that might not be possible in all cases. Leaders need to ask questions with the willingness to listen and openness to understand each team member personally, without judging them.

When you ask more questions with a genuine interest to listen and accept new opinions, it promotes a healthy work environment that allows each individual to have their independent thinking towards finding better ideas.

A good question can be a learning tool. As you strive to ask more questions to drive curiosity, you also need to encourage your team and give them space and freedom to ask questions to you. Building a culture that not only allows questions but rewards the thought process will promote curiosity and creativity as the driving path to better solutions for your organisation.

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Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at arinya_t@seasiacenter.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa. Experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at https://www.yournextu.com