Great Leaders Ask Questions – A Fortune 100 List

“Telling creates resistance.  ASKING CREATES RELATIONSHIPS”

—Andrew Sobel Client Relationships and Author of Power Questions
[ Excerpted from my new free e-book: Great Leaders Ask Questions: a Fortune 100 List” ]

Would you like to know the 4 questions one consultant uses to make a six-figure income?

1.“What’s going well?
2. “What’s not?”
3. “Where are you stuck?”
4. “What needs to change?”

He shares that the order above is very important, and starting with “What is going well?” is absolutely essential. In fact, he will spend half of the time on question one, because the time he spends cheering their successes is what creates a safe environment for asking questions 2 through 4.

How Do You Add Value?

Mark Miller, VP of Training and Development at Chick-fil-A,  shares this interesting story: Years ago, the president of our company stopped me in the hallway and asked a rather jarring question:

“How do you add value around here?”

I had no answer prepared. In the moment, I said the first thing that came to my mind: “I ask challenging questions.” He responded, “Keep it up,” and walked off. Ever since that moment, I’ve considered it part of my job description as a leader – not just to ask challenging questions, but also to ask the right questions. So what is your answer?

Get Ideas Flowing

Has your team ever gotten stuck in brainstorming what might be the best possible ways forward? Do you have a backup question that will instantly get them unstuck? Here it is:

“How can we do this (whatever your team needs to do) in a way that will guarantee its failure?

Your team will invariably not only begin to answer – but they will also enjoy this almost comic exercise. After they have compiled a sure-fire list of how to guarantee failure, then ask item by item:

 “What, then, do we need to do to guarantee success?”

For example, your staff lists “Do not make any follow-up calls” as one of the things that will guarantee failure. So you ask, “If not making any follow-up calls will guarantee failure, what will we need to do to guarantee success?”

What is your favorite question to ask someone you are connecting with for the first time? Here is mine:

“Would you please tell me your story?”

I used to ask about their family or their job. Those are not bad questions unless they are in the middle of a difficult family situation or perhaps have just been laid off. Asking them to share their story gives them complete freedom to answer in whatever way seems best to them. You may find they are also likely to share things you would have never dared to ask.

Are You Comfortable With Silence?

It is one of the most effective questioning tools you can use. Ask your question and then give the person the gift of silence. Give the person time to think and formulate their response. You would be wise to not interrupt their thinking process with words. He or she is thinking; and because you might be uncomfortable with the silence, you are tempted to re-ask the question, state it in another way, or to ask a related question. Please don’t! Be still; focus your kind attention on them, relax, and wait.

Your silence is, in fact, a question.

The good news is they will answer, and often the longer the silence, the more thoughtful the response will be.

You have just read a short excerpt from “Great Leaders Ask Questions: a Fortune 100 List”.  If you like what you just read you will want to download and read this entire FREE e-book!


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Bob Tiede
Bob Tiede
BOB has been on the staff of Cru for 45 years. He currently serves on the U.S. Leadership Development Team and is passionate about seeing leaders grow and multiply their effectiveness. Bob and his wife, Sherry, live in Plano, TX and are blessed with 4 incredible children and 6 remarkable grandchildren.

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