Great conversations start with a question. This is one of my core beliefs.
I spent four days this past month delivering a customized leadership development program to twenty-five leaders – in their final checkout one-third of the leaders shared a commitment to asking more powerful questions. As leaders, they realized they had limits to what they could accomplish without help. After being challenged to get their teams more aligned and engaged in the goals for their group, it became clear that asking questions is a critical first step. It was great to see them own it.
The difference between a question and a powerful question is in what it produces. Powerful questions produce thinking, feeling, and ultimately sharing that makes the conversation meaningful and helpful to both people who are engaged in it. Powerful questions reframe our perspective on an event so we see it in a more significant way. Here are some examples:
- Question: How was your day? Powerful question: What was the best part of your day?
- Question: What are you working on right now? Powerful question: What are your top 2 priorities to complete this week?
- Question: How would you like to spend our time today? Powerful question: What 2 things do you want to make sure we cover today?
- Question: What did you think of the book? Powerful question: What is one thing you plan to do differently based on what you read?
- Question: What went wrong? Powerful question: What was your role in the outcome?
To achieve mastery at asking powerful questions, it is important to create scripts that help ensure they get asked in the time you devote to your people. Let’s face it, we get weary sometimes and when we do our conversations become shorter and shallower. We miss opportunities to really listen as leaders, so scripting helps create more moments where powerful questions get asked. Here are four that I put into my one-on-one template:
- Recent successes and failures (to celebrate)?
- What is energizing you right now?
- What is frustrating you right now?
- What do you want to make sure we cover in our time today?
What meeting do you have in the next 24 hours that needs some powerful questions to be asked?
Remember – Great conversations start with a question . . . . think of how much greater it could be if it started with a powerful question.
If you want to explore some other ways to work questions into your conversations with your people many of my templates have questions included. Here is the link to some free talent management templates.