It’s simple and easy. Everyone can do it. And it will improve your leadership quotient. Here it is: ask more questions. And really listen to the answers. I work on this with my executive coaching and strategic planning customers. The easiest way to improve leadership works just as well in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kentucky, Jacksonville, Florida as it does all over America.
Leaders should talk with their teams all the time. Unfortunately, for many leaders, that means talking to people. Telling them things. Showing employees how smart they are.
That doesn’t work very well. People inherently dislike know-it-alls. Talking at people just doesn’t make people feel good or get them engaged.
Employees feel completely differently about meaningful conversations. Of course, they feel especially good when management engages with them. And the best way to do that is by asking questions.
“How are you doing?” is a nice pleasantry. But it doesn’t really count as a question. You need to dig deeper.
Here is how to approach it: ask one open-ended question followed by two follow-ups. “What are you focused on today?” is an example of an opening question. It gets the person thinking about the most important things they’re working on.
Listen intently as they respond. Don’t multitask or look around for someone else to talk with. And don’t follow up with a statement. Ask a follow-up question. “So have you seen a shift in demand to the more compact models?” Again, listen. Then ask one more follow-up. “Why do you think that is?”
People want to feel like they matter. And they like to talk about themselves and what they know. Especially to someone in management who cares.
By focusing on asking questions, you’ll build stronger relationships. And perhaps even more importantly, you’ll learn a lot. Remember, you never learn less by listening.
I’ve been asking questions and listening to my executive coaching and strategic planning customers for over 18 years. It truly is the easiest way to improve leadership. And learn a lot. Give me a call if you’d like to discuss other ways I help organizations improve leadership and grow. I work with family-owned businesses, major corporations and non-profits. And I work in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kentucky, Jacksonville, Florida and all over America.