The Power of a Question

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The Power of a Question


We have the great privilege of working with Extraordinary Leaders. Many of them are also bosses. There are also a lot of bosses who are not particularly good leaders. 

In organizations the people who ascend to management roles are often people who have developed a certain skill or competency and then been given the responsibility to train it, and then lead others. They are often driven to do more and to rise up. Their competency is acknowledged and rewarded. They are often challenged to help others raise their levels of skill and attitude. They learn a lot along the journey and in many ways become experts. Many rise up and are given responsibilities that start to move away from the original skill that got people’s attention in the first place. They learn a lot more. They know a lot. They often tell a lot. They may start to connect their value to the organization with all they know. They may be able to look at any situation and decide what should be done. They get paid the “big bucks” because they know the answers.

There was a time when the boss thought it was their job to tell people what to do. The people didn’t have to like it, they didn’t have to agree with it, they didn’t even have to know why it was being done, and they just needed to do it because the boss “said so.” In fact in these old times I am talking about a lot of bosses went out of their ways to tell people to do disagreeable jobs just so they knew who was boss. The “all knowing omnipotent boss” was to be obeyed. It was often about the person’s position on their name tag versus the respect they had earned or deserved. One of our Extraordinary Leader Masters Doug Smith said that one day he made the discovery that he was a real “Boss Hole.” 

The Extraordinary Leaders that we admire the most have made the discovery that their most powerful results come when they discover the power of asking questions and then asking powerful questions.

In our years of coaching it has been reinforced over and over that the key to developing people is helping them understand the power of accountability. When we as humans don’t take accountability we look to others for an excuse for why we are not achieving the life we want to live, or why we have license to not live up to our potential. It is in some ways an easy place to be, but it doesn’t do a lot for the individual or the organization. It is easy to say it didn’t work or even make sure it doesn’t work because the boss’s idea was the problem not me.

Extraordinary Leaders have learned to ask questions.

They ask questions to connect! 
Dale Carnegie said “If you want to make a lasting impression on someone ask questions about them!” When we take time to ask questions about others we raise their value. They appreciate your interest and you soon find out that everyone has a story. Getting some insight into a person’s story can be fascinating and can help you lead. Our success in life often is directly linked to the connections we make. Make powerful connections regardless of the person’s station in life.

They ask questions to understand! 
Extraordinary leaders don’t know everything. That is also true of un-extraordinary leaders, but some of them think they do. Even if you think you know something, you have the opportunity to see if from a different perspective. The more questions you ask, the deeper the understanding. As some people age they become more open to the idea that they can learn more things and perhaps learn that what they think is true is not necessarily true.

They ask questions to teach! 
The privilege of teaching people is not just about adding more information into them but rather getting what they know or have forgotten out of them. We ask questions to find out what they need. What would they like to learn? What do they think would make them better? What are they willing to do? What questions do they want the answers to? What do you need from me to bring out the best in you?

They ask questions to empower! 
When you ask someone a question, there is an implication that you think they know the answer. If you pull your car to the curb and ask someone for directions you are hoping they will have some expertise in the area of your question. If you ask a team member for solutions to challenging problems you are suggesting that you believe they have an answer. One company asks potential employees “What do you do to make other people’s lives better?” By asking this question they are letting people know that they are interesting in hiring people who make other people’s lives better.

They ask questions to inspire! 
They ask people if they are interested in going toward their vision. They ask “How can we make our vision more exciting, more impactful, or more fun?” They ask “What inspires you?”

They ask questions to grow! 
They ask questions to learn, to get better, to think differently, to think bigger and to be an example to others of the power of a question. They sometime ask provocative questions of themselves and others. Why am I doing things that are clearly not working? When did I start to believe that? Did I learn what I think I know from people who were experts?

Extraordinary leaders ask questions. Who do you need to ask? What do you need to ask? What is your intention in asking? If you could ask anyone, who would you ask? Do you have a mastermind? Do you need to tell people versus ask people? Are you a Boss Hole?

Kevin MacDonald headshot To reach Kevin and Shelley, you can call (866) 822-3481 toll free or by e-mail at or We believe you could have your best year yet!


Posted by Will Flourance at 03/20/2017 01:38:38 PM |