by Danette High
Leading with a Question requires courage. Why? Because you can’t control the answers. Answering a question in front of your team may also take courage. Honest answers won’t be drawn out without a foundation of trust. If you want to lead with questions, try these tips in your next team meeting.
If your team is not accustomed to responding to questions in team meetings, you may need to draw them out. Jumping in with a deep question could result in blank stares. Ask a related question that doesn’t require courage to answer, and you could start a lively conversation! Try What was a fear you had as a child? It can be a lot easier to admit that you were afraid of clowns than to admit you are afraid to seek a new leadership role.
Until your team is ready to open up, try this activity to get people thinking. Hand out 3×5 cards or sticky notes. Then ask your question and let people respond in writing. Collect the answers and lead the discussion from the cards. Answering anonymously may not seem to require any courage. However, you’ll prevent groupthink in the answers. And you’ll be building a bridge to greater openness on your team.
Trust won’t happen just because you ask a good question. Trust is built in small moments. Brene Brown, in Dare to Lead, talks about trust and courage “deal-breakers.” To create a safe place on your team, watch out for judgmental attitudes and advice when it’s not asked for. If you have someone who constantly interrupts, pull them aside and help them overcome the habit. As needed, establish ground rules for confidentiality. One act of courage leads to another. Be brave enough to provide a space for honesty. Lay the groundwork for a courageous team.
Danette High coaches emerging leaders to interpret feedback and criticism as a growth opportunity. Danette is an experienced coach and has developed specialized group coaching skills. Contact
This article is part of an ongoing series for diving deeper into the Lead with a Question series. We encourage you to use great questions to bring out the best in your leaders.
The manager in this story was able to ask James this revealing question because they had a foundation of trust. How would you rate the trust that your employees feel for management?
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