Common ground is the common denominator for connection. Gavin Adams
As a younger leader, I made a lot of statements. Actually, I made a lot of exclamations – with multiple exclamations marks!!! I guess I believed great leaders knew a lot about pretty much everything. As a younger leader, even though I thought I knew a lot, I really didn’t know very much at all. If you tried to tell me that, though, my response would be followed by several exclamations points!!! Of course, in the moment, I didn’t know, because we all have a tendency to not know what we don’t know.
Nevertheless, I wanted to look good as a leader and display confidence, so I made a lot of statements and shared my opinion openly and frequently. Nobody ever questioned where I stood on any issue, because I was all too willing to share. Yet I could not seem to gain influence, and at the time, I was not sure why. In hindsight, it’s very clear. Statements end conversations. Statements push people away, down, or to the side. Statements do not engage others. Exclamations are even worse.
In the past few years of leading a church, I have learned a simple, yet powerful truth – questions are better than statements. This is probably not news to most, but to me, it was a huge learning. Jesus did it all the time, which should have been my first clue long before. As I learned to ask questions, here is what I began to see:
1. Questions gain influence:
As John Maxwell has said, “leadership is influence.” If we ever hope to lead, we must gain influence, and questions are a powerful way to create conversations that lead to trust, insight, and eventually influence.
2. Questions honor authority:
Ironically, as a young leader, the only thing I questioned consistently was authority. The problem was I did it with statements and loud exclamations! When we ask questions to those in authority, we honor their position in our life and honor them personally as a leader. Question place us in a better posture to follow and submit, which is why questions honor authority. I could write a lot more on this, but you get the point.
3. Questions maintain our humility:
In a similar way, asking questions helps keep us humble. I have learned that asking questions is a great reminder that I don’t know it all. In fact, questions actually remind me just how much I don’t know! Asking questions helps me remember my place and let’s others know I recognize my place. Knowing your place is a huge benefit to any leader.
4. Questions create common ground:
If we hope to lead or influence others, we must first connect with others. Common ground is the common denominator for connection, and questions are the best method to show interest in others and seek to understand their side.
5. Questions are more convincing than statements:
Finally, asking questions actually does more to convince others than making statements ever will. Every great salesperson understands the power of a question. Questions help bring others along as they answer and convince themselves of your position, opinion, or idea. In the end, questions are powerful tools for creating conversations that lead to persuasion. Great salespeople master this art.
So go ahead, start asking more questions and see what happens. If you’re like me, you will quickly discover a whole new level of influence and leadership.
How have you leveraged the power of questions to lead or influence others?