Questions For You
The brilliant and insightful author Anne Lamott in her book Bird by Bird shares some words to the wise. She writes “stop pushing your help on people because your advice is not nearly as good as you think it is.”
What Anne is firmly reminding us is that advice-giving can be a trap. Sometimes it’s not advice that people want or need, but rather more nuanced approaches to mentoring and inspiring the people around us.
In the world of work, the best leaders are way-makers and groomers of other leaders. They create environments in which others can practice, grow, and evolve. To do this, we must create safe spaces and paths of inquiry for people to realize their own potential — not necessarily our version of what their potential is.
Better humans make better leaders.
Part of a leaders’ job is to be a maker of a human potential studio; a place to practice towards a teams’ mastery. A place to hone not just their on-the-job skills, but the self-awareness skills that make them better at being human. In this space, the potency of advice-giving is greatly diminished…maybe even irrelevant. Simply said, you can’t advise people into becoming better leaders or humans.
What I’ve found in myself, and among some of the best leaders I know, is the insatiable curiosity to evolve as an individual. This is usually an inside job — working on the Self. And, all quests begin with questions.
What QUESTIONS can do for us and our culture.
Personal creativity and organizational innovation rely on a willingness to seek out valuable and fresh information. Great questions and thoughtful answers foster smoother and more-effective interactions, they strengthen rapport and trust, and lead groups toward discovery.
Questions and answers, rather than advice, have the power to transcend issues of performance. At the heart of meaningful questions is a wellspring of wonder and curiosity and a capacity for delight.
When we pose and respond to a heartfelt inquiry we create a space for magic to ensue in conversation that can yield a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Knowing the kinds of questions your team consistently asks, are clues to the degree of openness and curiosity within your culture. In other words, to know your questions is to know your culture.
So, instead of giving advice, I’ll offer these questions:
- What kinds of questions and lines of inquiry can you offer to help those around you realize their genius and potential?
- What kinds of questions are you hearing asked within your team and your culture?
- To what extent are questions missing from your team’s conversations?
- What kinds of questions are missing from the current cultural dialogs?
Albert Einstein is credited for saying, “Question Everything.” Asking questions is a uniquely powerful tool for unlocking the potential in people and the values of an organization.
Done consistently and with care, the habit of asking great questions accelerates learning and the exchange of ideas. It powers innovation and performance improvement; it builds rapport and trust among team members regardless of role and hierarchy.
“What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question.”— Jonas Salk
P.S. If you haven’t ordered The Beautiful Business, you can do so here.
Steve can help you create an integrated belief-driven business that can reach and align with more of the right people —employees, customers, donors and investors—in a sustainable and meaningful way.