Are You “Dumb” Enough to Lead

You rose to leadership because you provided answers and solutions; that’s what individual contributors do. Not so with leaders.

In the past, you had all the answers but now you need all the questions. Are you brave enough to not know, even when you think you do?

Leaders with answers don’t need teams, they need cheerleaders and yes-men.

Curiosity and questions enable leaders to bring out the best in others; to find solutions through others. Bringing out the best in others is your job, period.


You limit your leadership when you’re afraid to ask “dumb” questions.

  1. Ask obvious questions.
  2. Explore inconsistencies.
  3. Toss out a “Why not?” It might take you somewhere.

Critics and questions:

Every leader hears personal and organizational criticisms. Face critics with questions not answers.

  1. Where does listening to you take us?
  2. What new future does your critique create?
  3. Are you offering solutions or just bitching?
  4. What can you do to make things better?
  5. Are you aligned with our mission, vision, and values?

Facing the down side of curiosity:

Too much curiosity creates a spiraling vortex of uncertainty. Too much curiosity stalls progress. There are dumb questions.

  1. Ask questions that lead to action.
  2. Ask questions that connect with strengths and opportunities.
  3. Ask questions that create simplicity not complexity. Any fool can create paralyzing confusion.
  4. Ask fewer “why” questions.
  5. Ask more questions that start with “how” and “what.” Well crafted “what” questions cut to the chase.

Leading with questions:

Repeating questions creates focus in others. Ask a question frequently enough and people will determine it matters. Ask questions connected to values, mission, and vision.

How can leaders deal with the struggle to have answers when they should be helping others find answers?