The Importance of Asking Questions as a Leader

The Importance of Asking Questions as a Leader

As a COO, you’re a leader. At times that can make you feel like you should know everything and that makes you feel hesitant to ask questions. You need to escape from that stigma. It’s important for everyone to ask questions and here’s why.

The Best CEOs Ask Questions

CEO behaviour is sometimes an enigma to the company, and even to you, the COO. When your CEO asks a lot of questions, it might seem like they’re the least intelligent person in the room. That isn’t a bad thing.

“Questioning forms new patterns in the brain. The more patterns it forms, the more flexible it becomes. With flexibility, it can access more information already stored in your brain instead of reverting to the old patterns.” – Success

The smartest CEOs are vulnerable, open to hearing what they don’t know, and are always trying to learn. These CEOs show up asking more questions than anyone else. They’re okay with appearing ignorant in the moment because they know that by learning, they’ll come out ahead. As a COO, you’re a leader too, and can learn from this.

Lead by Example

A good leader wants their team to feel open to ask questions. If not, it’s far more likely mistakes will be made. As COO, it’s your responsibility to make your team comfortable asking questions, this means asking questions yourself. You’ve got to lead by example.

“By posing questions, we establish an environment where thinking about what is happening, looking for better ways to do things, and questioning “the way we’ve always done it” are OK.  And that’s a good place to be.” – Rapid Start Leadership

Being afraid of looking stupid makes everyone feel the same way. There is a stigma around asking questions. You need to break that. Questions are essential.

Questions to Drive Your Team

As a strategic leader, asking the right questions can drive your team forward. Consider these five questions that Harvard Business Review says will help your team become more strategic and successful if made part of your ongoing dialog:

  1. What are we doing today?
  2. Why are you doing the work you’re doing? Why now?
  3. How does what we’re doing today align with the bigger picture?
  4. What does success look like for our team?
  5. What else could we do to achieve more, better, faster?

These questions drive the right dialog to drive your team forward. It’s important for leaders to get in the habit of asking things such as this. Your team could really benefit.

All good leaders should ask questions. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Don’t be afraid to look like you don’t know it all. Growth is an on-going process.

There are all sorts of different kinds of questions that are important for leaders to ask. This includes questions of clarity, questions for you to learn from, and questions that push your team. Questions are a vital part of a successful team, business, and leader.

If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send an email, and my team will get in touch with you!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2016 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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