Leading Can Be as Simple as Asking a Question
MARCH 13, 2019
No one has all the answers. Yet all too often we think we should know things we don't. You probably have been there: someone asks you a question that's outside of your field of experience.
So now we are worried because we think that other people expect us to know things that we don't.
When that happens, we often don't ask questions to avoid the risk of looking bad or feeling stupid. Or we spend countless hours searching instead of making a simple inquiry. Or we procrastinate as we debate in our own minds whether we should know the answer already.
However, if you want to be great at anything, consider it's time to boldly take a risk and start asking more questions as you learn rather than less.
Great leaders ask questions
When the people you work with can count on you to ask when you don't know something important, they gain confidence in your dependability and commitment to doing things right.
You don't just need to ask your co-workers, though. Leaders leverage the resources available to them, including their network.
Search engines and social media are helpful resources for answers and insight. Self-guided learning can also exponentiate your knowledge and understanding of how things work. Best of all, in the process you are likely to discover something that you didn't even know you didn't know. It's those "aha" moments that will fuel your curiosity and learning even further.
Also, seeking the answers you need independently with the resources available to you demonstrates initiative. Just be careful not to waste time, as it can be easy to use this as a way to look good rather than be great!
Be mindful of the balance between the value of independence and the value of leveraging the exponentiating power of interdependence. Leaders embrace both.
Start asking questions today
In The Power of Asking for Help , Elizabeth Johnson offers five great reasons it's okay to ask questions. Among those is: "If you're wondering about something, someone else has probably wondered it too." Yes, sometimes it is just that simple!
In fact, I'll suggest that asking a great question can actually be a more impressive demonstration of know-how than knowing an answer. When you let curiosity drive your questions, rather than the purely transactional need to know an answer, you and everyone around you are likely to discover something of value .
The bottom line is this...
If you really want to be a rock star in anything, focus more on asking better questions than on amassing a mental store of answers.
Embrace better thinking
Of course, there will be many things you need to know to be effective. Yet consider placing your emphasis on becoming a better "thinker" rather than a just a "knower" because it is your thinking that will ultimately set you apart from the pack.
What questions can you ask that will make a difference for you and others?
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