Can Better Questions Can Make You a Stronger Leader?

Can better questions help organize your priorities?Can better questions help organize your priorities?

How do you increase your influence over others? How do you build stronger relationships with the key people in your life? What’s the one tool that can help separate good leaders from the great? Great questions help you become a stronger leader today.

I have interviewed over 17,000 senior level leaders in a wide variety markets and industries around the world. The power of great questions has never let me down when building great long lasting relationships with people, no matter what their background.

Today, I share why questions are such a powerful tool for leaders to use. I believe that great questions can help you succeed in life. Let’s see if I can convince you of this today! Here are several reasons I use questions when trying to influence others.

The first reason questions are so powerful is people like to answer questions. Its human nature to want to help others with what we know. Good questions can help you understand the person’s expertise and situation. If you stay conversational enough people will answer almost any question you ask. It only takes a little extra time to prepare for an extraordinary conversation.

The second reason questions are so powerful is that good questions make the listener think. Knowing how to ask the question can get almost anyone to think more carefully about what you want to know. Well thought out questions can help both you and the other person more clearly understand any given situation.

Good leaders are good at quickly understanding the circumstances they find themselves in. Using questions can provide us the opportunity to dive in to almost any situation more confidently.

The third reason questions are so powerful is they can provide us valuable information. It’s very hard to understand something if you’re talking about it. Good questions can help you better understand more quickly. Your brain can process information many times more quickly than you speak.

Asking good questions can also provide you with the context as well as content of any given situation.  You mind works more efficiently when you’re listening.

The fourth reason questions are so powerful is they can help you be in control. For many entrepreneurs, it is critical to be in control of a given situation. Questions provide the listener an opportunity to control the information they are receiving. As we move further into the Age of Big and Small Data, it becomes more critical that you have the ability to structure the information in a more meaningful way.

The way you structure the information you are receiving helps you make better use of it. One of the challenges I’ve seen when working with analysts is that many times they are not sure what is important to be shared with their many stakeholders. What you share with your manager may be different than what you share with your board.

The fifth reason questions are so powerful is that they allow you to get people to open up. It’s easy to think everyone looks at things the same way you do. For many entrepreneurs, it is hard for them to wait for the right information at the right time. Good questions can help you get people to open up when discussing their ideas with you. Great questions allow the other person to become more comfortable dealing with your wants and needs because they feel heard.

The sixth reason questions are so powerful is that they allow you to absorb information at a rate that you can process the information. Great questions make you a brilliant conversationalist. Depending on the person’s communication style it can become easier for you to learn what you need to know because you’re in rapport with the other person. Great listeners are present when they ask questions. This means that you are listening more actively than trying to come up with the next great question.

The final reason questions are so powerful is that a great question can help you show the other person the possibilities in any given situation.  Questions can take listeners out of the present moment. Your questions can help the other person imagine the possibilities that they couldn’t see at the beginning of the conversation.

If you’re looking for a great resource on the power of asking great questions, check out Dorothy Leeds’ book, The 7 Powers of Questions.  This book changed the way I thought about questions.  Some of these key ideas originally came from the book, though I’ve put my own spin on them through the years.

Next week, I’ll share a proven process that can make you comfortable asking questions in almost any setting.  See you then.

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