Life is About Questions

Life is about questions. Compared to everything that could be known, we’re in diapers.

“Telling” plays a role in leadership. Questions advance your leadership.

A question-rich environment develops talent. Command and control leaders narrow opportunity and limit engagement.

LIfe is about questions. Compared to everything that could be known we're in diapers.

Life is about questions: 5 questions that advance your leadership:

I talked with John Baird, co-author with Edward Sullivan of Leading with Heart. Their book is organized around five questions.

  1. What do you need to be at your best?
  2. What fears are holding you back?
  3. What desires drive you, and which might derail you?
  4. What are your greatest gifts?
  5. What is your purpose?

How many of the above questions can you answer for your team members?

Life is about questions: 4 powers of questions

#1. Questions delay criticism.

Statements encourage evaluation. Do you agree or disagree with the statement? Conversations lean toward evaluation instead of exploration when statements are at the center. You say, “I agree,” or, “I disagree.” What follows is defense.

Sincere questions delay criticism.

(When you ask, “What’s wrong with me?” you’ll likely hear criticism.)

Engagement is a myth when one person does all the talking. Image of colored smoke.

#2. Questions create engagement.

Statements produce exchanges. Questions provoke conversations.

Engagement is a myth when one person does all the talking.

#3. Questions create openness.

Regardless of the response, you learn about someone when you ask, “What fears hold you back?”

#4. Questions encourage self-reflection.

Ask, “What is your purpose?” and watch what happens.

"I like 'what' questions." John Baird

Preferred questions:

John Baird said, “I like ‘what’ questions.”

Yes or no questions are dead ends.

Try asking…

  1. What do you think?
  2. What’s important?
  3. What’s next?
  4. What comes to mind for you?

The table of contents of Leading with Heart is five questions. (The ones listed above.) They invited me to read more. I’m glad I did.

What question can you ask that will advance your leadership?

JOHN BAIRD has been considered one of the premier executive coaches in Silicon Valley for over 25 years. He built his career coaching in the C-Suite at companies ranging from Apple and Nike to start-ups like DoorDash.
John earned a PhD in Organizational Leadership from Purdue University. He is Founder & Chairman of the renowned executive coaching consultancy Velocity.

John Baird on Leading with Heart