Whether you are a CEO, Business leader, indeed any member of a team, we all share the responsibility to grow, shape and advance our business.
It’s all too easy to fall into routine and habit forming behaviour when we are busy; in fact, part of our brain that helps us create habits in the first place, “the Basel Ganglia” uses lots of metabolic fuel and energy. When that resource is used up, it falls back into pre held routines. The solution to this problem is to hit the repeat button! Repetition kicks starts and creates habits, until they become unconscious.
Restlessly asking questions is also a habit, and when we repeatedly ask great questions to explore new and thoughtful ways of doing things and solving problems, the data we get back can be rich in helping us evolve.
“judge a man by his questions rather than his answers” – Voltaire (French Philosopher).
So, what is the reason we may slip into asking the same thing over again and worse not asking at all?
In my experience as a leader and coach to other CEO’s and senior leaders is that when they arrive into a new business or team – many things are new. They question readily to learn and understand and this gathering of insights is common place. When that leader becomes more knowledgeable and experienced; I observe that they often tend to slip into – I know/I understand mentality and develop a less open and promotion mindset.
We all can succumb to comfort and control which could stifle that restless curiosity we once may have possessed in spades. Here’s my top tips to help you:
- Get yourself ready for restless questions
- How to be a great at restless questioning
Get ready – It’s a mindset. When you wake in the morning and you are sipping your favourite coffee and mulling the day, how often do you, “question yourself” and what questions do you ask? This may seem a bit weird at first but many of you will do this to some extent unconsciously such as, “What do I need to do today?” Or “What would make today great?” But how many of you will ask, “What do I want to learn about in my business today?” “Who is the best person to ask?” May seam a subtle nuance but this will get your questioning mindset into gear.
Great restless questions
- Yes and Know just doesn’t flow – We all know that open questions get a better response yet we still fall into the trap of leading a closed outcome, even when we use words that could appear as open questions, such as, “How many folks operate that?” “why do we do this?” “where are the requirements”. Use exploratory questions that seek data and emotion. Here’s a few examples. “what’s the reasons we do these things?” “What are the things that would make this feel better?” “Describe how this could be different?”
- Your next question was in the answer – When you get served up an answer, you are gifted with the opportunity to dig deeper using the answer to form your next Question, so let’s explore. Response = having more time will make things better. Next Question = “What is it about time that causes there to be a problem now?” “What specifically about time is it?” Etc. I coined the Phrase, “Slinky Questioning”. If as a kid you had a slinky, you’ll know that you send it of the top step and its kinetic energy takes it down to the bottom. Use this metaphor to consider your questions. You will know when your slinky questions run out of energy, when your question gets an answer then the next question from answer, comes to a natural end. The trap we often fall into is we are driven by our own agenda and go off on a tangent and the slinky questions stop mid stairway.
- Listen – don’t queue your next question! I observe this to be the most infuriating and most common pitfalls in leaders when they are in conversation. Most of us a smart enough to recognise where the response maybe going – rather than truly being in the service of listening and letting the response play out, we unconsciously tell ourselves, I have heard enough and you then have the next question ready, then out it pops! Sometimes this could even cut of the colleague in their prime and that’s unhelpful. Shame on you leaders! It demonstrates poor communication skills as well as not giving you the chance to really be restless and explore new things at a much more meaningful level.
Being restless and asking great questions, means you are empowering your team, sharing control and developing their decision-making muscles when it comes to solving problems.
If you are not asking restless questions, it could assist their muscle memory to become complacent too. So here’s my final question for you to ponder on, “what if we only asked WHAT IF questions?”