Good leaders ask great questions. In 2022, that certainly is not a leadership secret. John C. Maxwell, the well-known leadership writer, wrote a NYT Bestseller1 by that title in 2016. HBR has been publishing articles connecting leadership to questions for decades2. Questions enhance critical thinking skills, invite collaboration, and fortify good culture. At this point in history, asking great questions won’t differentiate you as a good leader (whether you're a corporate leader, project leader, or community leader). Instead, the trick is to distinguish between the “what” and “how”.
Individuals process information at different speeds. Some individuals thrive with fast-paced, on-the-spot Q&A. Others, like myself & Derek Sivers3, believe our best work and ideas come through slower communication. These are the two predominant ways to ask questions today - in meetings via Zoom or in writing via email or Slack. Here is the secret we know that most people haven’t discovered yet; good leaders are diversifying the ways in which they ask questions. Since everyone is aware of the “what” (ask great questions), the only way to differentiate is through the “how” (the medium in which the questions are asked).
If you only ask questions via email (async written) or in meetings (sync spoken), you prevent the people around you from using their minds and creativity that will augment engagement, connection, and commitment. Where does async spoken come into play for you?
Here’s the 2nd order secret; diversifying the medium for asking questions also isn’t novel. In 1999, Nancy Kline outlined the importance of thinking environments5 (space that allows people to think and speak). It changes teams. It changes people’s lives. The difference, in 2022, is that we now have AI technology to implement them quickly and as easily as scheduling a meeting. The risk/reward ratio for experimenting with a new medium for asking questions is asymmetric. If it fails, the cost is nearly 0. If it succeeds, it could alter the trajectory of your business.
Storied has created an alternative “how” that you can try right away. Alternatively, you can sign up on our homepage for early access to Storied Loops.
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