Great leaders ask questions, and lots of them. Questions help leaders to skillfully discern between the good ideas and the great ones, and also help to identify possible pitfalls before they happen. It’s important, though, to distinguish between questions that build trust, and those that break it.
Problems can occur when leaders communicate their questions in a critical or cynical way. “What were you thinking?” for instance can be articulated in two different ways: in a judgmental tone, or in an inquiring tone.
Moving from judgement (taking an irritated, judgmental tone) to inquiry (taking an inquiring, genuinely curious tone), allows us to ask the most important questions of our businesses or people, while maintaining an expansive, generous mindset. It is by asking questions in this way that we’re more likely to engage others in a collaborative hunt for data and solutions.
What might it mean for you?
As you come across potential frustrating situations that merit questioning, take a moment and reflect on the nature of your intention. You can ask “what were you thinking”, if that is the right question, but allow it to come from a place of true inquiry and curiosity. We bet you will find your conversation builds trust with others if you do so!
About the Ten Insights series
This post is part of a set of the blog posts highlighting ten of the most important insights we have gained in the past decade of executive coaching and team facilitation work. We are sharing these insights with our mailing list in a series of bite-sized emails just like this one. We hope you enjoy them! Sign up below to subscribe.