The post earlier this week on the Art of Inquiry prompted a wonderful conversation in the comments and inspired some reflection on what it takes for a leader to adopt a way of being that supports asking questions in a genuine way. The Art of Inquiry only works when the questions are asked with authenticity.
Before you adopt the stance of being an Inquiring Leader
If you don`t honestly care about the responses to the questions, or if you`ve already made up your mind about the answers, don`t bother asking. But if you truly desire to make your life easier by engaging, influencing, collaborating with, and developing your employees; then this takes internal transformation on your part.
The shifts in belief needed for a leader to be seen as genuine in inquiry aren’t trivial. They take courage. They are:
From having all the answers to a willingness to enter the unknown. When we ask the kind of questions that we don`t have the answers to, it can make us feel naked and vulnerable. We live in a world where everyone (including ourselves) seems to look to us for the answers. What a burden it is for us to put ourselves in that position! Adopting a sense of curiosity and a learning attitude are key to entering the unknown.
From putting out fires to being completely present and available to listen to the answers. The truth is that it takes more time to ask questions and to listen to answers than it does to bark out an opinion or an order. But barking isn`t exactly the way to engage and develop your employees. They will learn through thinking and doing. Questions make them think and can start the forward motion needed for them to take action.
From hoarding power to having the courage to ask the questions that will distribute power and unleash possibility. We avoid inquiry because we believe that our knowledge is a source of power and that power is in limited supply. We may think that if we ask questions that empower our employees to reflect and act for themselves that we’ve given away some of our power. In fact, power can be shared with a net gain to all. When you empower your employees through inquiry, you unleash unlimited potential for you, your team, and your organization.
Enjoy the Art of Inquiry, but understand that shifting your mindset is essential for it’s effectiveness.