Leading with Questions

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Powerful Questions as a way to Foster Leadership Development

Have you ever been asked a powerful question that took you aback, dove into you, and pulled out new thinking or emotions that you didn’t know you had? I had a former colleague that did that with relative ease. I would swing by his office, ask him how his day was – expecting a 5 minute conversation – and 45 minutes later I would leave his office with new insights feeling heard, validated, and new. He had an uncanny ability to ask great questions and listen well. This ability didn’t require magical powers, it required the understanding that, as author, community-organizer, and consultant Peter Block articulated, “Questions are more transforming than answers.

Powerful questions offer transformation as they invite us to think for ourselves and move us beyond regurgitation of things we’ve heard before to new insights, exploration, and discovery. A “rightly timed” good question can change the course of your life or shape a new way of thinking about the world around you – shifting your current paradigm as your awareness of the world around you expands into new realms.

These questions don’t need to be profound, they can be simple, seemingly normal questions. The difference is powerful questions invite depth and encourage emergent thinking (what’s possible?).

Powerful Questions

-What is the question you need to ask yourself to discover and become your best self?

-What is dying to be born in you?

-When have you experienced spirituality? How has that permeated through your life?

-What is the importance of friendship in your life?

-What major choice/decision are you postponing?

-What is your purpose? What is your life telling you?

-How can you honor your own values while being open to other’s point of view?

These are just a sampling of the questions that can shape new understanding. There is no shortage of questions. The key is finding the questions that give rise to new possibility around things that matter for you or for those you are in relationship with, and then listening for what emerges.

I’d like to invite you to share with us of some of the questions that you find powerful. What are questions that have changed your life? Please list them in the comments sections below.

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Dave Newell

Dave Newell is director of the Chidsey Center for Leadership Development.

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