[vimeo id="149345684"] You know, one of the oldest methods of teaching was developed by the philosopher Socrates. Socrates believed that the most effective way to invest wisdom into another person was through questions. He would ask questions he already knew the answer to so his students would attain greater understanding. In leadership, asking questions is an essential skill. It not only benefits yourself, but also empowers and helps others as well. Here are a few reasons leaders invest time into developing good questions.
First of all, questions help those around you reach the same conclusion. It’s tempting as a leader to just tell everyone the solution to a problem. When you can see things in the big picture, the answer seems obvious. But it may not be as obvious to others. That’s why it’s important to help people work it out themselves. People retain information when they come to the conclusion themselves. They take ownership of the solution. So don’t be afraid to ask questions that will lead others to a fuller understanding.
Secondly, questions help you find hidden innovations. Many of the greatest innovations in history started with questions. Most medicines from penicillin to vaccines are a result of the question, “How can we prevent or cure disease?” Orville and Wilbur Wright started by asking, “What if mankind could fly?” Many of the laws of nature were found by asking, “Why?” And most inventions were developed by asking “What if…?” Innovation is always the concluding answer to a great question.
Lastly, questions help you identify root issues. You know, no organization is perfect. And sometimes things go wrong. But it’s not always obvious why things went wrong. That’s when it’s important to ask the right questions. What went wrong? Why did it happen? Could it happen again? What can we do prevent it from reoccurring? These are just some of the questions a leader can begin to ask when looking for root issues.
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