Leaders Ask Questions With Purpose Back »

Written by B. Lynn Gordon (former SDSU Extension Agricultural Leadership Specialist).

An additional step in building one’s credibility as a leader focuses on the questions a leader asks. Research has established the foundation of leadership is credibility and a leader’s ability to build credibility can occur through many steps. One of these is their ability to ask questions with a purpose.

When a leader takes the time to ask questions, it demonstrates to their followers what is top of mind with the leader, what are their values. It is also an additional measurement followers can use to quantity if the leader is credible or not. Questions asked by the leader creates an open window for the follower to learn more about the leader and the leader’s values and aids the leader in their own development.

Broadening Perspectives

When a leader asks purposeful questions it challenges them to broaden their perspective, be able to articulate their viewpoint, take responsibility for their values and challenges them to listen. A leader who listens with intent — demonstrates respect and openness towards their followers. It shows you care about your followers’ opinions, thoughts, concerns and ideas. This in turn is a step towards building credibility. Leaders representing their follower’s will first ask them their opinions, as they seek to gather information rather than assuming they know the thoughts and concerns of others and speak before gathering this insight. A true leader listens to their people as they ask purposeful questions and before they speak.

Establishing Team Support

For a leader showing your willingness to represent others and that you are genuinely interested in them and their issues creates a platform for open communication and trust. As a result it increases support for you as a leader and strength for whom you represent, whether that be a committee, an organization, a team, or your employees. Without taking the time to ask meaningful questions, decisions are often made on false pre-tense with inadequate consideration and lack of team support.

Questions to Consider

As someone in a leadership role, who is continually trying to improve your abilities and building a strong, responsive group of followers whether that group be your employees, committee members, organization representatives, etc., here are some questions you may consider asking which will help to solidify the shared values of you and your followers:

  • What did you do today to lend a hand to a co-worker/committee member, etc.?
  • What did you do today to acknowledge the work of a co-worker/committee member, etc.?
  • What’s one mistake you made in the last week and what did you learn from it?
  • What have you done in the past week to improve so that you’re better this week than last?

Reference: Kouzes and Posner, 2012

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