Do you (really) ask questions? Premium

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Abstract business cooperation
The experts agree: command-and-control style leadership demotivates employees, stifles debate and creativity, and silences collective intelligence. Edgar Schein, expert in organizational development, advises leaders to listen to what others have to say in a more inclusive leadership style based in the art of inquiry.

• Given the speed and complexity of decision making, your effectiveness as a leader rests on your ability to leverage the knowledge and skills of each of your team members. To exploit the valuable resources of your talent, you must first recognize your dependence on them and, second, overcome hierarchical differences by making real human communications.

• The primary of goal of recognizing your dependence on others and taking the time to make human connections is trust. This is because without trust, it’s impossible to engage in value-adding exchanges with team members.

• The fear of seeming weak or incompetent is the main obstacle to shifting from leading by command to leading by questioning. Leaders are caught between a rock and a hard place: dependent on others to be effective but discouraged by cultural norms that see such dependence as a sign of weakness. It’s up to leaders, however, to change those outdated norms. They can do this by asking for help from others, thereby signaling that giving and receiving help is an acceptable.

Business leader testimony

Philip Mix, former Managing Director of Ashridge Consulting shares his experience with leading through “Humble Inquiry.” He says this approach enables him to do more of what he believes all leaders have to do today: make more informed decisions and create opportunities to maximize the development and growth of others.


Read our dossier:
Do you (really) ask questions?

Based on Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling by Edgar H. Schein (Berrett-Koehler, October 2013), Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask by Michael J. Marquardt (Wiley, February 2014) and the interview with Philip J. Mix, Organisation Development Consultant, Philip J. Mix, and Faculty Member, Ashridge Business School.
Business Digest N° 245, April 2014

Watch the video :
Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

Interview with Edgar Schein, author of Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling.