Why Leaders Should Ask More Questions!

Good leadership is about much more than issuing directions and making decisions. Effective leaders demonstrate the ability to ask the right questions at the right time and truly listen to the responses. Without generating questions that get to the heart of an issue, it can be impossible for a leader to make informed decisions. Taking the time to listen attentively to input from your team members allows for a more accurate assessment of a situation and demonstrates respect for all stakeholders which can lead to improved trust and communication. Leaders who put emphasis on these areas are far more likely to be successful than those who focus solely on their own decisions.

As leaders, our words carry a lot of weight. Because of this, we should understand the importance of remaining mindful when speaking to those who look up to us for guidance. It’s good to share our ideas and enthusiasm with others; however, it is equally important to recognise when it might be better to demonstrate what we’re trying to say rather than simply stating it. While proving ourselves capable of leading may require verbal proof on some occasions, other times silence can be just as powerful.

It’s important to ensure that all teachers have equal opportunities to share their ideas and experiences during meetings. When one person dominates the conversation, it can indicate deeper issues for the principal, such as that teacher not effectively fulfilling their role or others not being given a chance to contribute. Additionally, school leaders who prioritise talking over listening may miss out on valuable feedback and become disconnected from their team, hindering their effectiveness and ability to learn and grow. To create a successful and collaborative learning environment, it’s essential to encourage open communication and active participation from all members of the school community.

Asking questions is an essential skill for many reasons. Not only does it encourage the exploration of new concepts and solutions, but it also builds relationships between individuals. Asking questions is a great way to start deeper conversations with friends or co-workers, or to bolster understanding on a particular topic. While it’s normal to feel apprehensive about asking questions, don’t be afraid! Instead, embrace them as a tool to further your knowledge on various topics and get to know others in more meaningful ways.

To ensure that every team member stays on track, I begin all meetings with a question about what’s most vital for me to understand. If someone is feeling overwhelmed or seeks assistance with something, then I take the time to ask and listen intently. Additionally, if it appears that an individual may be heading in the wrong direction, I’ll inquire further so as to accurately assess their situation before we move forward.

Open ended questions that require a bit more thought than just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer can create meaningful connections and conversations. These types of questions are essential for fostering understanding, igniting interesting discussions, and prompting complex ideas between people.

To be a successful leader, it is key to effectively communicate and actively listen. Ask questions and attentively hear out the answers – this will help you make informed decisions that are more likely to yield positive outcomes as you will have access to more data than before.

Asking questions is a valuable skill for leaders as it enables them to make informed decisions and establish strong relationships with their team members. By listening actively to the responses, leaders can gain a deeper understanding of what is required to achieve success. Meaningful questioning encourages exploration and collaboration among individuals, which often leads to more innovative solutions. Consequently, strong leadership emerges when leaders ask thoughtful questions and listen attentively, creating an environment where everyone feels respected and heard.

Author: Dr Jake Madden

Jake Madden (Dip Teach; B.Ed; Grad Dip: Leadership; M. Ed: Leadership; EdD; FACEL; MACE) Dr. Jake Madden is currently the Principal, St Edward’s Primary School, Tamworth. He has enjoyed a successful teaching and principal leadership career over the last thirty years building teacher capacity through the development of learning in the contemporary world, the promotion of flexible learning spaces to meet the needs of the 21st century learner and curriculum for global mindedness. Jake is a leader in the notion of teacher-as-researcher and is widely published in this area, authoring and co-authoring books and a number of journal articles showcasing his experiences and research into leading educational change.

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