Last week the Uptick team banded together for an early morning conference on leadership. The L2: Learn Lead conference at the Birmingham Marriott featuring John C. Maxwell, Linda Kaplan Thaler, and Tim Sanders enlightened us about many of the best practices and creative ideas of leadership. We were so empowered, we decided it was valuable to share with you, too!
Maxwell opened with a session titled “Good Leaders Ask Great Questions.” He spoke heavily on the idea that some of the greatest opportunities you will face in life are behind locked doors, but these doors have little to no chance of opening by just getting close to the door or turning the knob. He spent his sessions today emphasizing the importance of asking questions. He says the key to these locked opportunities is asking questions, but not just good questions. It’s intentionally great questions that will connect you to people, help you understand others, and eventually open the doors to those opportunities that you desire.
Most will attest to the fact that someone showing interest in you is one of the fastest ways for you to feel valued or important because they assume you have answers that they don’t already know. Maxwell puts it this way:
“People connect when they understand, but people commit when they feel understood.”
And you connect by asking questions. Asking questions equips us with knowledge, and knowledge gives us an advantage. But don’t mistake asking questions for appearing uninformed. It is far worse to regret the questions you didn’t ask than to ask the questions that could lead you to fulfillment. But what kinds of questions carry you to this point?
John Maxwell had a few suggestions about what some intentionally great questions look like:
- What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
- What are you learning now?
- How has failure shaped your life?
- Who do you know that I should know? Will you help me meet them?
- What have you read that I should read?
- What have you done that I should do?
- How can I add value to you?
What makes these questions great is that they dig below the surface a bit and they position two people in a single direction even if their answers are different than what yours might be. Great questions teach you things. They challenge preconceived ideas, and they build relationships. Great questions foster connections, increase understanding, and encourage commitment. And that’s what you want. That’s what builds the foundation for your personal relationships as well as your business relationships and sets you apart as a leader.
What kinds of questions should you ask that you aren’t currently asking? Ask well. Lead well.