“If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.” ~William Edwards Deming
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” ~ Naguib Mahfouz
Stress for many leaders comes from thinking that they need to know it all. They must have the solutions, before an issue or concern arises. The what ifs, if then, or maybes…That is what a leader does–right? Being one step ahead, managing it all and trying to keep all things under control. Wow…no wonder most of us leaders are running about in twenty directions at once, with little sleep, headaches, stomach upset, broken relationships and angst. And what about pursuing joy, peace, clarity, and a one step at a time–in the flow thinking? Yeah right! How does that happen? As an overachiever, “This is not an option!”–so we say to ourselves. If balls drop, all goes to you know where.
But really, what are you responsible for? Looking closely at the choices we make all day long is critical. Being 120% responsible is damaging to you and all your relationships. We think–“Oh, if I do more, that is going to help. That is what a strong leader does–and I must step in and fix this.” And what about the 20% you took away from the other–the team player who is not given the opportunity to shine, because you took their place away to do so? You are trying to be a hero to all. But how this really shows up– you are the know it all, and don’t trust easily. You are controlling and above others. And you wonder why people don’t step up with their own ideas and actions–why they don’t fully engage and put in their 100%!
The first step–stop. Breathe. Listen to yourself. What are YOU called to? Then ask powerful questions of your teams, your partner, your children, your friends, and listen. People do have the answers already inside of them. As a leader, you may just need to help pull it out of them–and the best way to find ownership is to ask not tell. In the asking, the responder comes up with an “Oh yeah…” A wonder that is invited and shared between people sparks the ultimate connection that leads to results far greater than you could have ever produced on your own. And you build a relationship that fosters trust and collaboration. Who does not want this in their work and life?
So it is simple. Do less. Breathe more. Take on only what you are called to. Ask more questions than you do declaring statements. Practice making this shift today and notice your results and the results of the people in your work and life. I bet you will find yourself smiling more and feeling less anxious.
Summary: The one thing sited over and over again when speaking on leadership is the need to ask questions then listen. As Tony Robbins says; “Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, & as a result, they get better answers.” The best way to learn how to ask better questions is to keep practicing. Go for it! Do less and ask more.