Stop Asking These Questions

I had a manager who was probably promoted into his first-ever management position somewhere in the 80’s, and I just pictured that they said, congratulations, and then they handed him the manager handbook. And if you flip to page 90, that’s the section that said, “If you want to be a good manager, ask questions.”

Now, I have no idea if this is true, but this is what I pictured, because by the time I started reporting to this manager, I got this sense that he was thinking, “Oh yeah, I remember reading in that handbook that if I want to be a good manager, I should ask questions.” Unfortunately, he completely missed the mark.

He asked leading questions, questions where he already had an answer he wanted you to get to, and he would just simply ask questions to ultimately drive you to that answer.

Well, at the time, he and I had a great working relationship and were driving back from a client meeting one day. It had been a sales presentation, and he starts asking me questions. I just smiled, nodded my head and said, “Mr. Manager, just tell me what you want me to say.” This is asking the wrong kinds of questions from the wrong place.

As a good leader, the point of asking questions, your objective, is not to sound compelling. It’s not to get them to your answer, you should be coming at it from a place of pure curiosity – where you are truly interested in wanting to know what their thoughts are, getting them to generate their own ideas, their own solutions, their own outcomes.

So as a leader, we want to avoid leading questions. We want to ask questions that are out of pure curiosity, to really stimulate other people’s thoughts and open up the possibility for you, what you may not even know. So the next time you go into a situation, really ask yourself, am I staying curious or am I trying to sound compelling? Ask questions out of curiosity!