“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” —Voltaire
When it comes to creativity, asking the right questions provokes your thinking for great results.
Many leaders, managers and supervisors do not know how to probe for information from their employees, colleagues as well as their own boss. Instead, you may make assumptions based on their actions. How many of these assumptions are wrong, yet you do not question them with the right questions? Asking the right questions to spur innovation to solve the problems, challenges and difficulties you have in front of you does not trigger defensiveness. It typically is seen as being constructive and a thirst for knowledge and understanding.
Most people do not know how to frame a question for understanding. Many leaders are not aware of the power asking the right questions result in. Some people think that when you are questioned, it is not asking for feedback to help understand situations. Actually, asking the right questions need to be listened to carefully and then thought of before answering.
“You can’t solve a problem until you’re asking the right questions.” – Unknown
Before asking a question where you want a great solution to a problem, challenge or difficulty is when the question is thought-provoking. Your questions need to make people actually use their creative thinking skills. By having others think about the question, they need to take the time to generate ideas that move the solution toward a positive response.
Unleash the Connected Potential of Your People
When working with a team of collaborative people, asking questions to challenge beliefs and assumptions of a project is definitely what you want to do. Follow-up questions gives you an understanding of the ideas you want to convey in the project as well as how things will be put together for a better result than ordinarily expected.
Leading By Example
“I’m always looking, and I’m always asking questions.” – Anne Rice
Your employees need to ask questions just as your leader asks questions. As leader, you are the one who your employees need to follow. Asking insightful questions is what every employee needs to do in order to achieve great results. In being open to new ideas, each team member/employee needs to share their thoughts and opinions regarding the project.
The Way You Ask Questions
“Management teams aren’t good at asking questions. In business school, we train them to be good at giving answers.” -Clayton Christensen
The way you ask questions is critically important. In asking open-ended questions, you start with “Why”, “How”, “What”. Questions that start with any of these gives you a fresh challenge to assumptions and beliefs.
On the other hand, closed-ended questions call for specific responses such as “Yes” or “No”. These types of questions start with: “How many…”, “Do you agree…”, “When”. Closed ended questions focus on facts. Leaders who like to maintain control focus on these questions.
Having the courage to ask questions that challenge others helps to bring out the perspectives other people have of the same situation. This can be thought-provoking as you get to see how those who are fearful of asking questions put themselves out in expressing their thoughts. The courage to ask uncomfortable questions that are different from what others ask can be what is needed to achieve creative results.
Developing Yourself Mindset
The idea of asking questions demonstrates the thoughts, opinions and mindset others have. How curious your team is with regard to expressing their thoughts, ideas and opinions tells a lot how others see the same situation. Building a team with a curious mindset helps the organization through
Teams with a high level of curiosity are more creative and perform better than those who are not curious or not expressing themselves. Being an important contributor to the problems, challenges and difficulties on your plate help generate more effective work results.
Move Beyond the Basics
Too many companies discourage questions from their employees. Get past the groupthink of how everyone else asks and answers questions. Think different in the questions you need to ask. Identify 3-5 ways you ask questions in your work culture that contributes to your competitive edge.
We’ve all experienced times when we’ve failed at being good questioners, perhaps without realizing it. Asking questions that get great results moves your creative innovations forward while at the same time, they improve your employee’s performance. Ask empowering questions to foster curiosity and creativity.