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by Stacey Robinson, CAE, KCSAE President

“A single question can be more influential than a thousand statements.” Bo Bennett, author and American businessman

One of the struggles faced as organizational leaders is cultivating the strongest team. Once you find or have your team, how do you build them up, create culture, and enable them to share their talents and move the needle in order to build a better, stronger organization for your membership?

Is the key to the success of the team onboarding? Team building? Certifications? Weekly meetings? Leadership development? Strategic planning?

These are all great, and will likely add skillsets to individual members of the team, but how do you get them to apply their talents collectively and develop outcomes that benefit the organization and its members? How do you create an environment where they can learn from and challenge each other? Is there a way to help the team practice thinking strategically while identifying unintended consequences?

Well, I just showed you! All of these questions and more can be worked through by the asking of questions; and not just any questions - intentional questions. Questions that allow the team to work through possible solutions and outcomes. Questions that give them the stage to try new things, and work through different views. Questions that enable them to combine their talents and create solutions collectively.

“A leader is as good as their questions. When you ask questions, you will change what you know. When you change what you know, you will have a new understanding. When you have a new understanding, you change your actions—and, ultimately, your leadership.” Lolly Daskal, Executive Leadership Coach and founder of Lead from Within

Think back to the last few hours of work… how many questions have you been asked? What percentage of your answers to those questions were questions? Implementing this method takes energy and practice. It is easy to give someone the answer; it takes time to ask questions. That extra time is an investment in your teams’ leadership development.

That being said, the asking of questions as a means to develop the team cannot just live with the question itself. You must work to build a culture where teams members are given the space to work through their answers without fear of sharing the wrong answer. As the leader, you must be willing to ask the questions without supplying the answer. You must always be willing to work through answers you believe might not be the best direction through… you guessed it! MORE QUESTIONS! The right questions followed by active listening can lead to unimaginable solutions.

Below are a few articles I found helpful in refining how and when I ask questions in place of providing answers. I hope you find these helpful as well!

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