Friday, June 17, 2016

“Leadership Master” Book Introduction Chapter IV: Inquisitive Leadership

The point is that framing the right problem is equally or even more important than solving it.

The business and world become over-complex and hyper-dynamic, how can leaders become more comfortable and confident in asking questions rather than giving answers. As in many instances, there is a perception that leaders should be the most experienced people and thus, have all of the answers. That’s a fallacy. Confidence comes from being comfortable in your role as a leader, value collective wisdom, not only provide answers but facilitate solutions. Should inquisitive leadership become a trend in the Digital Era?

Asking the right questions helps to validate how through and deep your team’s thinking is on a particular issue: There is a strategic value of understanding businesses and being able to ask open-ended questions that evoke responses to enlighten or illustrate specific issues or topics. The art of questioning is to ignite innovative thinking, the essential to questioning also stimulates creative sides of our brains in order to find answers. The science of questioning is about asking the right question at the right time to the right person for the right information. It is also based on the art of listening, fact-finding, analysis, structured thinking, the objective evaluation and comparison, the progressive pursuit of the better solution. And it’s human’s cognitive improvement.

Ask the right questions for ensuring doing the right things before doing things right: Although almost all serious digital leaders and professionals today understand the importance of asking the right questions, it takes both courage and humility for them to ask questions, and it takes both insight and wisdom to ask the right questions. Because many times, you have to break down the status quo and break through the conventional wisdom, to keep informative and inquisitive. You need to self-reflect the management and problem-solving style: Do you always ask good questions, or do you just keep pushing and rushing up to find the answers without really understanding users’ true needs? It’s important for digital leaders and professionals to be inquisitive with learning agility, to ask the right questions using business's vocabulary, not only via technical lenses but also via business viewpoint.

The "5 WHY," and open “WHY NOT” questions: The “5 WHYs” is an iterative question-asking technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem. The big “WHY” is always in the center of innovators’ question list. Innovative people are change agents who are not afraid to challenge the status quo and they have the unlimited curiosity to ask questions. They not only ask deep “WHY”s to diagnose the root cause of problems but also ask the positive “WHY NOT” to spur creativity. The refusal to be bound by constraints and limitations and a pursuit of possibilities rather than impossibilities seems to be a hallmark of great leadership achievements. They ask “What if we do things in a new way,” or, “How can I make things better for the whole?” A good leader asks the questions anyone would want to ask if only you had his or her perspective.

Leading by questioning. The point is that framing the right problem is equally or even more important than solving it. It is important to applying creative thinking, critical thinking, systems thinking, etc. in a recursive way for both problem identification and problem-solving. Leading by questioning and learning how to serve each other better to contribute to a better society with integrity, humility, respect, ethics, fairness, empathy, and sustainability is a significant challenge waiting for all leaders and today’s hyper-connected digital workforces.


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