Leaders often know what the needs are in a situation, and dictate them with authority. While the leader is often correct about the direction, engagement can suffer without more buy-in; asking questions that help others discover the same needs can help.
Even when you know what is needed, consider expanding your own understanding, helping others buy-in and be a part of the process by asking questions similar to these:
- Based on what you know, what do you think we should do next?
- Is this situation similar to anything you’ve ever dealt with before? Any thoughts on our next move, based on that?
- If you were in my shoes, what would you suggest we do now?
- When we look at all the factors, do you see a clear option or two we should consider?
- If I left for a week, and put you in charge of this, what would you do?
For example, it’s become clear that Friday afternoon meetings are less effective than the Wednesday late morning meetings. If you have a team member that you need to solidify a relationship with, or who feels like s/he isn’t always “heard,” consider asking that person “If you were in charge of scheduling these meetings, would you leave them on Friday, or just have them all on Wednesday?”
Their answer will likely be the solution you’ve considered, so now you’ve turned them into a trusted team member by adopting their idea. And if the answer is different, you’ll learn something. For example, they may come back with “Wednesday seems like the better idea, because those always go better, but sometimes we get new TPS reports on Thursday, so a Friday meeting makes more sense those weeks. What if we put them late Thursday, though?”
Do you have any good stories about times you asked questions instead of dictating?