[vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Leading with Questions—The Common Trait of Successful Leaders

Few days ago, I read Manager Today, a very influential business magazine in Taiwan. One of its articles said: to be a successful leader, you need to know how to ask questions. This article was insightful and highlighted a skill that is vital to success.

My experience in leadership coincides very well with what the article says.

French philosopher Voltaire has said: “the questions a person asks tells more about him than the answers he give.” The core of this message is that we can understand  a person’s thought process and ability to handle situations by looking at how they ask questions. It also gives a peek into how they will handle situations in the future.

As a leader, I encourage workers to think critically, just as I love asking questions. Only by asking, can we discover details that we might have overlooked or angles that we have never considered. The right questions often are able to change a situation in a very impactful way.

The article gave a very good example, which I thought was intriguing:

Ex CEO of General Electric (GE), Jack Welch, mentioned in his biography that in his early days, he sought advice from management guru Peter Drucker. The question was: “GE has too many subsidiary companies, making it difficult to manage. What solution do you recommend?”

Drucker responded with two questions:

First: if what you have now are not these companies, but a huge sum of money—which subsidiary companies would you want to acquire? Why?

Secondly: think about those companies that you do not want to invest in—what should you do with them?

These two seemingly simple questions bothered Welch for a while. He held meetings with his managers, and all his plans for the company became much clearer because of the two questions.

Welch said that this was the single most valuable consultation he has ever had in his entire career.

After reading about this, I realise that people like Drucker do not need to promote themselves at all—his influence is so great that no one can possibly forget him.

The American Centre for Creative Leadership has conducted research on 191 successful corporate leaders, and found that these people succeed because they know how to create opportunities, and utilise those opportunities to raise questions.

Chairperson of DuPont, Chales O Holliday once said: I realise that every time someone asks me a question, I become a lot more aware—as if I am a different person. I try doing the same thing everyday: question. Before understanding someone’s point of view, I rarely comment. Only when they open up will I take action. If I do not question, I may underestimate a problem, or miss the point of a situation.

Leaders like Welch and Holiday understand the power of asking questions. It helps us to think out of the box, and consider new directions. It helps give clarity to our thoughts, stimulate our imagination and generate innovative solutions.

Of course, we need to master the skill of it. Questions such as: how is the progress of your work? Who are the ones that can’t keep up? What is the problem… etc, are usually not game-changers. On the contrary, it might affect workers’ morale. Therefore, it is not about asking a lot of questions, but rather asking the right ones.

Our eastern, reserved culture has made us averse to asking questions, especially concerning difficult issues. We like to think that questioning is rude, and it always seem like having an answer is more important than having a question. Having a question means you do not have an answer, and not having an answer is deemed as incompetent.

The importance of questioning is closely linked to learning. When you start asking questions, that means you are also committed to seeking answers. This process leads you on a path of steep learning curves, and leaders can better shape an environment that is conducive for their team.

As a leader, I constantly wonder how can I lead my team better and avoid stagnation. I understand the importance of asking questions, because it is the only way we can keep improving. Sheer hard work without constant inspection and reflection isn’t enough to create success.

If you are a leader, remember to create the culture of questioning—maybe then you would be able to hear surprising, creative opinions and solutions from your team.

If you are a follower, do not fear that asking questions would expose your lack of knowledge. In fact, asking is often the key to growth and facilitating opinions.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]成功人士共同点:培养自己成为提问型领导者(Leading with question)

前几天,我阅读了台湾最具影响力之一的企业杂志《经理人》(ManagerToday),其中有一篇文章的内容是说“要成为一位成功的领导者,就要懂得问问题”,这篇文章观点精辟,点出了每一位想要成功的人,都必须具有问题意识并学会精准提问。

我非常赞同这篇文章的观点。

法国文学家伏尔泰(Voltaire)曾说过:“要判断一个人,看他怎么回答不如看他提出的问题”,这句话的核心是,一个人的提问能看到他对事件的掌握力以及思维角度,在更进一步的就是,他日后将会怎样掌控事情的走向。

身为领导者,我非常鼓励员工提出反面思考,本身也喜欢提问,因为只有提问,才能点出我们或许都忽略的小细节或是我们从未思考过的方向,而一道看似简单的问题,只要问的精准,往往都具有改变大局的潜能。

该篇文章引用一个很好的例子,我认为非常值得借以参考:

奇异(GE)前总裁杰克.威尔许(Jack Welch)在其自传中提到,他刚初上任时,曾经想管理大师彼得.杜拉克(Peter Drucker) 请教。他问杜拉克,“奇异太多子公司了,很难管理,你认为该如何处理?”杜拉克没有直接回答他的问题,却反问他两个问题:

“如果你现在拥有的不是这些公司,而是一大笔钱,有那些子公司你会想买下来?为何选这些公司?”

“请你想想看,剩下那些你自己都不想投资的公司,怎么处理妥当?”

这两个看似简单的问题却让杰克非常苦恼了一阵子,他不断的召集主管们开会讨论,在找出答案后,他非常高兴,因为整个集团的发展策略与蓝图,就因为杜拉克的两个问题变得更清晰了。

威尔许在其自传中提到,这是他担任高级主管的生涯中,最有价值一次咨询服务。

看完了威尔许的例子,我相信像杜拉克这样的人才,完全不用靠拼命推销自己来让人留下深刻印象,在他人的眼里,他就是如此深具影响力。

美国创新领导中心(Centre for Creative Leadership)曾针对191位成功的企业领袖做研究,发现这些人之所以成功,关键在于他们懂得制造提问机会,然后接着提问。

例如查得.哈乐第,杜邦公司(DuPont)董事长曾说过:“我发现,每当有人问我问题时,我变得更为警觉,就像变了一个人似的。我每天都试着做同样一件事:提问。在掌握一个人的精神与观点之前,我鲜少置评,唯有在他们敞开了心房时,我才会采取行动。如果我不提问,我可能会理解综合轻视及问题,但是错失了关键所在。”

像威尔许以及查得这样成功领袖都发现了提问的惊人力量,提问可以让一个人跳脱原有的思想框架(Thinking Out of The Box),朝自己都未曾探索的方向前进,让我们思绪变得更清晰,激发创意,帮助我们寻找自己不知道的所有问题的答案,让你更懂得倾听以及说服。

当然,提问也不是随便的问题,例如你问员工进度如何?是谁跟不上?企划案问题出在哪里?你不同意我的说法……诸如此类的提问不仅不能创造奇迹,反而会使员工大受打击,因为停在员工的耳里这是责难与质疑的意思。所以,问题不在于问得多,而是问对问题、切中要点。

我们的教育环境让我们害怕提问,尤其是具有挑战性的问题,因为那会被人认为是很多意见或很不礼貌,造成我们不敢提问,而后来到职场,“我有答案”远比“我有疑问”来的重要,因为你有疑问表示着你没有答案,没有答案显示着你没有能力。

提问的重要性又与自我提升与学习息息相关,当你提出问题或被提问时,就证明你必须开始为这个问题努力地去专研以获得解决的答案,如此一个过程,将会引领你去学习,而领导者将会塑造一个能适合环境变化并乐于接受挑战的团队。

自己身为一个集团的领导人,我必须常常检视自己的领导方式是否能更进一步带领我的员工跨步迈进,而不是止步于一个没有创新的停滞空间,我深刻的理解到领导者与员工相互提问的重要性,因为只有不停的提问,我们才会正确的前进,而不是永远埋头苦干却无法看见成效,这么一来,企业的明天绝不会比今天更好,因为我们从未认真思考以什么答案来面对接下来每一天的问题。

若你是一位领导者,时刻要记得为你的员工塑造一个提问的文化,你或许会从部属的提问中听到惊喜的想法。

而你若是为人部属,更别害怕提问会曝露你的无知或是疑虑,回避问题反而会使团队失去所需要的资讯和意见。

 

资料参考:

http://www.managertoday.com.tw/columns/view/52353

http://www.managertoday.com.tw/columns/view/52455

http://www.kingstone.com.tw/book/book_page.asp?kmcode=2014940818050&readpage=3&show=freeread

http://www.ccl.org/Leadership/index.aspx

 

 

 

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