The more I study leadership the more I realize that if you want to be successful in it you have to master one often overlooked skill. There is one thing that you should be doing more than anything else, and if you really care about being successful you have to become an expert in this particular art form.
You have to be able to ask great questions.
There is something that happens to people when you ask them a great question. It flips the the switch from me to you, and it instantly lets people know how much you care about them. When you are in a relationship with someone and you care enough to ask the question you are instantly getting buy in on the importance of the relationship. The majority of people you are leading want to grow, so when you ask great questions you are giving them the opportunity to do so in a safe way.
High level leadership requires us to leverage the people that are on our team, if you really want to leverage that team than you need to know how they would answer the best questions.
Jesus modeled this behavior for us throughout his ministry. Look at Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus asks his disciples one question, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" Then, after they answer Jesus asks them the next question, "Who do you say I am?" Notice the one thing that Jesus doesn't do in either of those questions... He never answers the question for them. He is intentional about letting them answer it on their own, and when they give the correct answer He tells them that He will use them as the rock upon which He will build His church.
So, the next logical question is, "What makes a great question?" I've broken it down into three primary sections.
1. You have to ask without judgement. The moment that you ask a question and you put a connotation on what you expect the answer to be then you are manipulating the truth. When you manipulate the truth then why ask the question in the first place, just tell them what they are doing is wrong and move on.
2. Ask the questions that matter to them. You may already know the answer, but this question isn't about you, it is about flushing out their theology on a particular subject. So be very careful to ask questions that they need to answer, not just the questions that make you seem smart.
3. Listen to the answer. It is not okay for you to ask a great question and then never listen to the answer. Give the answer all of your attention, and when they are done answering validate what they said. More often than not people just want to be heard, and this is an incredible gift that you can give someone.
Ask good questions and it will change your organization/group/team forever.
What is your favorite question to ask?