Are you having the difficult conversations with your team? Not with the intention to prove to them that you are right but with the intention to listen, learn and empower your team? Failing to listen to those with different perspectives means you are not growing as a leader or as an organisation. Giving your team permission to disagree with each other and with you is the most counterintuitive and yet powerful thing you can do as a leader. You create the safety for new ideas to emerge and to be shaped.
How do you do this? With a curiosity that is a catalyst for dialogue.
This requires a different way of asking questions than we experience in education or early in our careers. It requires the wonder of the artist. Rather than using questions to gain information or to check others knowledge you need to ask questions that can have many answers. Instead, you can ask questions to engage, to express interest, show concern, to empathise, to stimulate thought, to gently shift your paradigm or to deliberately move yourself out of your comfort zone.
The interesting thing? These questions are not complex – it can be as simple as ‘can you tell me more about that?’ or when people seem stuck a simple ‘what else?’.
The ‘old school’ clarifying and checking questions, where there’s usually only one answer, turn us off to learning. Questions are so much more than fact-checkers! As an inclusive, empathetic leader, catalytic questions are your superpower. The quality of your repertoire to ask and listen openly, reflect the value you place on relationships and the maturity of our emotional awareness.
When was the last time you reflected on the types of questions you use? And whether you ask them to understand or be understood?