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Healthy Leadership is Quality Questions

Alan Andersen

As we continue examining what healthy leadership is. Our hope is to equip you with various principles that will empower you to practice healthy leadership.

If you caught our previous article healthy leadership is simple, you may recall the statement that "Hitler was, in fact, a good (effective) leader."  As you can imagine there was some pushback on this idea. While I stand by the point we made I do want to remove one layer of uncertainty.

The disagreement surrounding Hitler's leadership is one of the reasons that we are working to clarify what healthy leadership is in the first place. Leadership can be an elusive concept! By definition "lead", "leader" or "leadership" has no real moral or ethical association. Therein lies our opportunity to define what exactly healthy leadership is.

Principle Number two: Healthy Leadership is Quality Questions

 

In a good article on leadership and management, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith shares 6 skills a leader must have. Especially when managing what is commonly known as "knowledge workers". Knowledge workers are typically people who are employed because of their intellectual ability and may even know more about a focus or discipline than their managers.

Regardless of the type of people you manage, a key component to healthy leadership is asking quality questions. Healthy leaders ask well timed, properly placed and helpful questions. When this happens, leaders can create a culture of collaboration. The art of asking quality questions is imperative for healthy leaders!

Hurdles to Quality Questions

I believe what makes asking quality questions difficult is that it seems our society has devalued questions and in turn we do not exercise the muscle of asking great questions.

That seems like an odd observation, Alan. What leads you to believe that?

Maybe because we do have an increasing number of knowledge workers and some believe that questions project "weakness". Or maybe because questions take time, commitment and relationship. We certainly do not have any spare time!

Practical Application

Regardless of why we need to get better at asking questions, what remains clear is that learning to ask quality questions is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly.

As leaders or managers, it may feel like the right thing to do is give a directive or share an answer in place of asking a clarifying question. If I'm honest, I have been (and still am at times) guilty of giving an answer instead of asking a question. Let's fight that urge! 

At least until we have thoughtfully asked one or two quality questions. Call to mind what Gary Keller shared in The One Thing

"Why focus on a question when what we really crave is an answer? It’s simple. Answers come from questions, and the quality of any answer is directly determined by the quality of the question."

Practicing the art of asking quality questions will make you, in part, a healthy leader. In turn, you will begin to influence a culture of collaboration!

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

 

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