Leading With Questions or With Leading Questions?

I’ve had a couple of conversations recently with some folks near and dear to my heart, my kids. Both of my kids are in the process of making some major life choices. One of them was asking for my input while, admittedly, I was offering the other my thoughts and advice even if they weren’t specifically seeking it. Both of them are college-aged, and the world would consider them adults even though, to me, they will always be “my kids.”

Wanting to respect their independence, I’m at a point in my relationship with both kids where I must limit my desire to tell them what to do. I want them to think more deeply on their own and have a healthy thought process for decision-making. During our recent phone conversations, I’ve asked questions to hopefully help them think more deeply about their decisions and the impact those decisions may have on their lives.

Shortly after the second conversation, I reflected on my questions and wondered if I had added any value to the thought process. As I thought back, I wondered whether the questions I had offered led my kids to discover the best options and alternatives for their given situations or if these questions were simply my opinions stated in the form of questions.

There are several books written about leading conversations with great questions. I think the challenge for myself and other leaders is to make sure we are truly “leading with questions” and not asking “leading questions.” The first allows people opportunities to grow and become better decision-makers. The latter can potentially stifle deeper thinking and create “group think” or drive behavior that, while our preference, may not be the preference of our team members.  As you lead, think about how your questions are perceived.

Continue Leading the Interstates Way!

Jack Woelber


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