We’ve all been in situations where a manager consistently asks rhetorical questions, positioning himself as the “loudest voice in the room.” And while he may think he is sharing useful information and reinforcing his position, his team members often become uncomfortable and disengaged.
However, questions can be a valuable leadership tool when they come from a place of genuine curiosity. Roger Schwarz (http://www.schwarzassociates.com/) recently commented in the Harvard Business Review (http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/07/increase-your-teams-curiosity/) that good questions “keep the discussion focused, get all the information on the table, learn why members have different views, and create solutions that take into account all team members’ perspectives.”
How often do you leverage the power of true curiosity – either as a valued team member or with your manager? Do your questions typically advance the discussion in a positive way, or do you rely on rhetorical questions that can have the opposite effect? So before you ask your next question, challenge yourself to be truly curious.