I have observed that successful leaders share a common trait: they love questions. 

Here is how questions inspire us.

Questions inspire critical thinking

Asking questions is a powerful way to stimulate critical thinking. When you ask a question, you prompt your brain to process information. You analyze things from various perspectives. This enhances your decision-making skills. It also helps you to make more informed and effective choices.

Example: What is the downside of making this choice?


Questions show interest and empathy

Successful leaders understand this well. Building strong relationships with team members requires showing interest and empathy. By asking questions, you show that you value the opinions and experiences of others. This helps to foster a sense of trust and respect.

Example: How has this experience impacted you and how do you feel about it?


Questions promote communication and understanding

Effective communication is essential to the success of any team or organization. Questions encourage dialogue and ease of understanding. Because they provide an opportunity to clarify ideas and resolve misunderstandings. With open and honest communication, everyone works towards the same goals.

Example: What was offensive in what just happened? Will you say more?


Questions inspire creativity and innovation

 Asking questions can help you unlock the full potential of your team. You encourage creativity and innovation. Two things happen when people think beyond the usual boundaries. They come up with new and innovative solutions to problems. It also helps them leave no issues to go unnoticed.

Example: What ideas can we put down if we choose to be uncensored?


Questions build trust and respect

Trust and respect are critical components of successful leadership. By asking questions and listening to the responses, you show that other’s opinions matter. This helps to build trust and respect.  These are essential for creating a positive and productive work environment.

Example: What quality do you wish for to be more on this team?


Questions lead to better decision-making and problem-solving

When you ask questions, it can lead to better solutions. This is because it encourages people to think and come up with new ideas. By doing so, successful leaders can find solutions to complex problems. Questions aid decision-making. It may not have been possible otherwise. This could save a leader a lot of time and money in the long run.

Example: What resource would we like more of so it supports a solution to this issue?


Questions encourage continuous learning and growth

Successful leaders understand that learning and growth are essential for long-term success. Something is born out of asking questions and encouraging others to do the same. You create a culture of continuous learning and improvement. This helps to ensure that your team is always adapting and growing to meet new challenges.

Example: If you could pick 2 experiences to have for your professional learning this year, what would it be? 


Questions show humility and a willingness to learn

Successful leaders are not afraid to admit when they don’t know something. By asking questions, they’re able to show humility and a willingness to learn. This is an important trait that helps to build respect and trust with others. It also encourages a more open atmosphere within the teams they build.

Example: What will help us work better as a team?


Questions show respect and appreciation

By asking questions, you show that you value the opinions and contributions of others. This helps to create a culture of respect and appreciation. This leads to a positive impact on team morale and productivity. This results in interactions being more of a two-way conversation and less of a monologue.

Example: What professional experience has been the highlight of this year for you and why?


Questions encourage personal and professional development

Asking questions promotes personal and professional development. When a leader seeks feedback and guidance from others, they gain a lot. They can identify areas for improvement. They can start working towards becoming better at their roles and critical responsibilities. This also has an effect by lowering the employee turnover rate.

Example: Tell me one way I can change and add value to what you are doing. 


Questions are at the heart of my work as a coach. It opens up a deep exploratory and non-judgmental space for me and the coachee. It allows many unspoken aspects to emerge and leads to a richer learning conversation for leaders.


Some of the examples above show you clearly how questions stimulate, provoke, and lead to immense learning for all. 


Here are 10 situations in 2024 where you can practice asking effective questions:

  • Yearly strategy planning meets
  • Leadership programs
  • Coaching 1-1 conversations
  • Regular team meetings
  • Team Appreciation circles 
  • Project retrospectives
  • Innovation activities
  • Feedback circles for teams
  • Leader talks/speeches
  • Mentoring forums
How has your personal experience been with questions? How has it helped you as a leader? I would love to hear from you.


Additional Resource on Questions:
  1. This article from HBR focuses on how good leadership is about asking good questions.
  2. The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger
    This book explores the importance of asking the right questions and how it can lead to innovation and creativity. 
  3. The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
    This book offers a unique perspective on the power of asking questions in both our personal and professional lives. It argues that how we frame our questions can profoundly impact the possibilities we see and the actions we take. 
  4. Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life by Marilee Adams
    This book provides a framework for using questions as a tool for personal and professional growth.

Sailaja Manacha

Sailaja Manacha

Sailaja Manacha, a Master certified Coach from ICF, is known for her programs and coaching methods that combine psychology with leadership practices. In her work, Sailaja draws from Psychology, Ontology, NLP and Spiritual frameworks as well as rich, real-world experiences.

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