Sunday, February 12, 2017

Bridging the Gaps between Questioning and Answering

All leaders need to ask questions, but they also need to assist in providing answers, to bridge the gap between questions and answers.


In the industrial age with information scarcity, the followers ask leaders how to do, and leaders are expected to always answer the questions, sometimes for maintaining the status quo, even they themselves struggle to find answers. It somehow compromises leadership effectiveness. With today’s digital convenience, knowledge is often only a click away, the differentiation between leaders and followers are not based on who ask questions and who answers. As the matter of fact, more often, leaders should frame great questions, and followers need to practice independent thinking and creative thinking and provide alternative answers with the fresh point. To put simply, as we steadily move into the deep digital reality, it is the time to bridge the gaps between questioning and answering; every great question is like the magnet to attract all sorts of answers, and every answer should also evoke more questions to deepen the understanding.  It's not a matter of whether you should ask or tell more. It's important to do what is right in a situation; discussing things as appropriate. For every digital leader or professional today, there is time to ask, and there is time to answer.  And people who innovate are change agents and digital pros and not afraid to challenge the status quo, they have the unlimited curiosity to ask questions.


All leaders need to ask questions, but they also need to assist in providing answers, to bridge the gap between questions and answers: Good leaders will do both naturally. A good attitude of a leader should aspire to have confidence in both asking questions and giving answers rather equally. Just because leaders are in that position, it doesn't always mean they necessarily know what is best. True leaders have always been intrigued and they have always asked questions, to themselves, to circumstances, to books, to experiences, and to other fellow people. Effective leaders navigate their leadership through continuous asking: “Who, Who not, Where, Where not, What, What not, When, When not, Why, Why not, How, and How not.” Confidence comes from being comfortable in your role as a leader, acknowledging that your job as a leader is not just to provide answers but facilitate solutions. Only when they see and understand the problem from the other person's perspective, are they able to give an answer that makes sense to the team? So make sure you ask good questions that elicit the best out of your employees. Effective leaders want to understand the issue, so they ask. They will always ask questions to people around them, get views of everybody, learn about the subject when necessary and then use their leadership qualities to resolve the situation or make effective decisions.


Bridging the gap of questioning and answering could help improve leadership effectiveness and build leadership reputation: Don't confuse true leadership with position or rank as they need input from a variety of sources before making decisions. Leaders could gain more trust and respect by asking the tough questions; leaders should also practice expert power to provide premium answers. They can build leadership reputation via both asking and answering. Effective leaders always ask tough questions to collect enough input, by doing so, the team feels that the leader is interested in helping get the work done. The more interactive the conversations are, the more valued everyone feels. From a management perspective, leaders may be inflexible about the goal but they are extremely flexible with the roadmap for attaining that goal. They will take alternative path if they will get to the goal quicker and more effectively. As a result, they are always looking for options and the only way to discover options is to ask.  


Improving leadership maturity via mastering questioning and being open for the variety of answers: How can those in authority evolve from their current ego-centric sense of self toward developing a greater, more human sense of self? Q&As are the two sides of the same coin. Think one of the fundamental capacities of a leader, with or without role authority, is that they are open learners, meaning that they are willing to engage the ambiguity of the context in businesses of what contributes to the long-term health of the organization. Digital leaders or professionals need to become more comfortable and confident in asking questions. Since curiosity is a natural aspect of learning, confidence in asking questions would be one measure of one's capacity to learn. Asking questions tells us that we are still curious, still willing to learn, with the beginner's mindset, which is one of the characteristics of effective leaders in the digital era of information abundance and fast pace of changes. In doing so, coupled with the development of the critical thinking ability, all of these wonderful ideas like listening and developing trust, respecting others, engaging the minds of others, will naturally emerge, and improve leadership maturity.  


Bridging the gaps between questioning and answering is to bridge the learning gap. How can all of us learn that answers are not ends, but the means for greater inquiry? If there are no questions, there will be no answers. The more we question, the more we know, we learn and thereafter we teach and spread our learning. In substance, leadership is all about future, about change, about progress and innovation, direction and dedication. Leaders set principles, open for criticism, and take the risk for innovation, and they practice leadership disciplines via both questioning and answering.




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