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Why Spend Time Asking Powerful Questions?

Is it easier to have the answer or ask a powerful question?

Think about this for a moment. When was the last time you asked a powerful, thought-provoking question that you did not already have the answer for, that sparked curiosity, led to feelings of uncertainty or further questions?

You are not alone if you answered rarely. According to the well-used resource of many boards, The Art of Powerful Questions puts forth, "the aversion in our culture to asking creative questions is linked to an emphasis on finding quick fixes and an attachment to black/white, either/or thinking" and goes on to say it is a product of our educational system. No wonder we generally not conditioned to ask questions. Our learning has never developed it!

A recent Voice of the CEO survey conducted by Gravitas Impact Premium Coaches highlighted that 60% of CEO's "believe they must figure it out themselves". This Do-It-Yourself approach can easily result in feelings of overwhelm, frustration, stress, and loss of confidence. What can be done differently? (eh...a simple question to warm you up!)

A few more powerful questions CEO's and Executives are asking:

  • What would it take to bring our strong vision and strategy to execution?

  • How can we get everyone on the same page, so our teams are not siloed?

  • What would it take for the executive team to be more strategic and get "out of the weeds"?

  • Why are team heads not meeting expectations? How is this leadership impacting others?

  • We know where we want to be in 10 years but what is the strategy that will get us there?

These are some examples of powerful questions being asked by leaders trying to adapt to an ever-changing world that requires a more agile approach to daily challenges.

What makes a question powerful?

Fran Peavey, a pioneer in the use of strategic questions, stated it best when she observed, “Questions can be like a lever you use to pry open the stuck lid on a paint can. . . If we have a short lever, we can only just crack open the lid on the can. But if we have a longer lever, or a more dynamic question, we can open that can up much wider and really stir things up. . . If the right question is applied, and it digs deep enough, then we can stir up all the creative solutions.”

What is important for CEO's, Executives, Senior Leaders, and Boards, is to continue expanding this "toolbox" for success by exemplifying the use of powerful questions at every opportunity.

"As we enter an era in which systemic issues often lie at the root of critical challenges, in which diverse perspectives are required for sustainable solutions, and in which cause-and-effect relationships are not immediately apparent, the capacity to raise penetrating questions that challenge current operating assumptions will be key to creating positive futures." (The Art of Powerful Questions)"

As a coach to leaders and teams, I have learnt and continue to learn the art of asking powerful questions. From experience, I have found high-functioning teams do this much better and more often than average teams.

As a CEO or Executive of a mid-size organization, are you asking the right questions? Try the 10 minute, 7 Attributes of Agile Growth® Assessment and we guarantee we'll soon be asking some very different and powerful questions for organizational success!

For a copy of the Gravitas Impact Voice of the CEO Survey, please email or visit AgileWorkSolutions

As a Certified Business Coach, I utilize my professional expertise every day to ensure clients I work with can successfully ask the right questions. By utilizing the 7 Attributes of Agile Growth®, I provide a proven, practicable and profitable path for companies, non-profits, and local governments who want to move beyond their current performance status quo.

Jerome Dickey, MA, ACC, CPHR, Q.Med


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