Active dialogue is crucial for leaders to help their team members and subordinates solve issues and move forward. Dialogue is an open-ended, two-way flow of communication that level and balances out speaking and listening with the purpose of teaching and learning.
Organizations that have high-performance records are known for teams that develop personal bonds among coworkers and management. Such relationships are what forms the context for high-performance achievements.
Other means of communications, such as directing, debating, and discussing, may control or influence workers, but achieving compliance is usually the best result instead of effectiveness and productivity. Great leaders know how to ask great questions—do you often wonder why? There are reasons why great leaders need great dialogue and why it is important to be a leader with this skill.
Asking Great Questions Are Important
Asking questions can be tricky and often cause more debating than problem-solving. Great leaders direct their line of questioning in ways that prompt learning and building communication skills. Leaders want to accomplish more than just getting answers, they want to create a report with their coworkers.
Great leaders typically focus their line of questioning of these four objectives:
- Reaching goals of the mission, purpose, and vision of their company
- Becoming the best leader and person they set out to be
- Assisting team members in becoming the best leaders and people they can be
- Leading their team to fulfill the mission, purpose, and vision of the company with excellence
These type of questions great leaders ask are not the typical conversation pieces that generate office chatter. They typically ask team members questions that are deep and can make employees a bit uncomfortable, at least until they have time to think about its meaning.
Most leaders that reach success in their line of questioning find that the more they ask, the better the team and leader become. The following are examples of such questions.
What type of leader am I and what can I change?
Team members look up to a leader that displays self-assurance, self-confidence, and pride in their job, however, self-centeredness is not so much of an accepted or appreciated trait. A great leader is willing to put themselves in the spotlight by asking their team members if he/she comes across as self-assured and self-confident or simply self-centered?
A genuine leader inspires team members to accomplish the mission, purpose, and vision of the company and to achieve this they need to know how their team members perceive them. They are taking the risk of asking this question to gain insight on how their members view them through honest feedback.
Do you see what I do in you?
Management often feels their top concern is to constrain and control their team while hoping for adequate production. A great leader will see an individual’s talent and efforts that they may not see in themselves.
A great leader can play dual roles, micromanaging and scouting for talent and potential in their team members. They see potential and make it their duty to tell them and encourage them to pursue bigger and better things. Each interaction with the team member is a chance to build the employee up so he/she can feel confident enough to unleash their skills and talents.
How do you feel about_________?
Even though a great leader displays confidence, they also remain humble in their ability to solve every problem. Realizing they don’t know all the answer and are willing to seek others opinions is just one other trait team members respect.
Even though a great leader may think they have the answer, they often want to get their team members ideas by asking them, “how do you feel about this”? The more input they receive from their team, the better the variety of ideas they can put into play.
How can we do the differently?
The run of the mill leader will dodge problems and challenges. A great leader will move toward the issues and face them head-on. When there are mistakes, a great leader will walk into problem seeking a solution instead of a place to lay the blame.
If there are failures that need attention, they do so in a gracious and private manner, but directly. Great leaders see room for improvement and have no problem asking their team members for their input on the best way to solve the issues at hand.
What can I do to help?
So many leaders display their title and their ego in a way that others find belittling and degrading. They often see their position as a means to gain power and leverage over others on their team. A great leader understands that their role is to guide their team members to accomplish the mission of the organization.
Therefore, instead of just directing orders, a great leader will ask what the team needs from him/her to achieve these goals. They will ask questions such as, “what can I do to help you be successful and accomplish your goals?”
What are concerns of my team that no one discusses?
The greatest and most surprising questions a great leader can ask their team is “what are you concerned about that you aren’t mentioning? A great leader will listen attentively and respond with caution understanding that if they make a negative impact, they may never get a truthful response again.
Even if the answers are uncomfortable and hurtful, a great leader will realize that the replies can be valuable in the success of forming teamwork and fulfilling the goals of the organization.
Where do you see yourself in two to five years?
Great leaders know the best way to hire and retain talented employees is not to have such a tight grip on them that they feel stagnant. Even if this means encouraging a team member to go for a better opportunity outside or within the organization.
A great leader wants to see the best in and for their team members, which is why it is important to ask them where they see themselves in five years or “If you could design your dream job, what would it be?”
Managing performance with an open mind with a positive outlook is a tremendous struggle for leaders in each industry. Ego’s are hard to handle when there are a group of people that all want to work towards the same goals.
Do you offer more telling rather than asking your team how improvements can take place? A great leader will realize that feedback is important for the growth of your team and the organization. Applying open-ended questions will allow you as a leader to learn about and from your team.
By seeking their thoughts, you will see many ideas and statements that can be crucial in the way you and your team players work together to accomplish the mission of the organization. If you apply ideas and opinions from team members, be sure to personally thank them with letting them know they are appreciated and that their opinion counts. By doing so only proves in one more way that you are a great leader.