Leaders: Are You Asking Team Members Enough Questions

BY Kathy Crosett
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My way or the highway. That is the motto of many old-​school leaders who are focused on getting the job done. That motto also shuts down any questions from staff members who might wonder if there’s a better way to complete a project. Failure to encourage questions could indicate negative leadership traits.

Review the following list posted on leadchangegroup​.com from Kay Peterson.  If any of these traits sounds like you, start curbing your bad behavior. Prompting your team members to pose questions and then engaging in healthy discussion of new ideas can save your culture. It can also grow your confidence as a leader and increase revenue.

The Expert

One type of leader who never asks questions is the expert. Why would this person bother to ask a junior team member for an opinion? Doing so would be a colossal waste of time. Even worse, asking for assistance could make you look weak.

Here’s the problem with that line of thinking: You, as the leader, have positioned yourself as a know-​it-​all boor. Your job, as a leader and manager, is to develop your team members while getting the job done. Your way will not always be the right way. Ask your newest team members for ideas and inputs regularly. And don’t just ask: listen, too. Consider the suggestions seriously and respond to individual contributors with your feedback.

The Politician

Another type of leader is all about political advantage. These folks are keen to climb the corporate ladder or otherwise amass power. As managers, politicians quickly decide who can best serve their interests, especially in the moment. If you have these tendencies, you may be ignoring people on your team who you think can’t help you. You fail to solicit their opinions or feedback. Because you’re so busy positioning yourself for your next promotion, you may basically be ignoring your team.

Instead of being self-​serving, put your team members first. You could improve your team culture by using the method that Marcial Losada’s research found works best. In the right environment, participants should ask questions at a rate of three times higher than the rate of statements made by leaders or trainers.

Your employees put their trust in you when they agreed to join your team. Do them the courtesy of treating them professionally. Reflect on and stay away from the negative tendencies you may exhibit in your leadership role. Instead, use your skills to create a welcoming and open environment that encourages questions.