Leaders DON’T Have All of the Answers

By Dr. Addison Killeen

September 14, 2021

What questions should leaders ask?

You already read it in the subject line, however it bears repeating: Leaders DON’T have all the answers.

We just don’t.

Many times our teams have the answers, and we just need to use skill in empowering them to give that answer. Ideas come from great brainstorming and thinking. That doesn’t happen at the top, it happens in the masses.

So, how do we get good solutions from the team? Inquiry and good questioning.
How do we develop this skill set and ask better questions? Practice asking good, open-ended questions.

1) Assume you have something to learn from the other person. This will help you ask an open question and actively listen to the answer.
2) Use questions that start with who, what, when, where and how. They allow you to gather more information about the other person’s perspective.
3) Try to use their words when possible in your questions. When you use the words that someone else uses, they are more likely to open up and clarify their thinking.
4) DO NOT use the word ‘Why’ – it will many times put the other person on the defensive, even if it’s not meant that way.

Examples of good questions for us as Leaders:

What problem are you trying to solve?
What will success look like?
How will you know when you have it?
What will having that give you?
Where would you like to focus?
What’s your best outcome?
What’s your worst outcome?
What are you afraid of?
If things could be exactly right for you in this situation, how would they have to change?
What will move you forward?
What will happen if you don’t move forward?


In Summary

Leadership is sometimes just asking the right questions….even if we’re not trying to lead them to their own answers….it’s just inquiry.

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