There has been an increase in the blogosphere and business publications lately about the power of questions. Questions help us uncover new information. They help us grow. They foster innovation and creativity.
So, why are there some in positions of authority that still resist questions? Why are there some who don’t want their people to challenge their ideas? What is it about new information that’s uncomfortable for ‘leaders’?
One possible reason is the fears and insecurities of the ‘leader’, the person in authority.
The old version of leadership was the person who had all the answers. The leader was the guy or girl you went to when there was a difficulty that needed resolving and that leader would solve the problem for you. Leadership meant being in control and not looking weak.
If the leader has held on to this outdated view, then questions are a challenge to their authority. For this type of leader, a question about their point of view, knowledge or strategy from a peer or subordinate signals some doubt or concern about their opinion, decisions or vision. The insecure person perceives a threat to their identity.
The more assured person encourages questions and is prepared to be wrong. They recognise they don’t have all the answers and that transmitting knowledge all day doesn’t foster the growth of others.
One of the most powerful things a leader and mentor ever said to me when I asked him a question was, “I don’t know. Let’s figure it out together.” Those eight words conveyed confidence, collaboration and vulnerability.