Leadership roles are crucial in any organization – they govern the efficiency of departments and the overall productivity of a business. Unfortunately, this is the same reason why few employees dare to ask the difficult questions when opportunities present themselves.
Many people fear that asking the wrong questions might lead to blacklisting, grudges, and even career suicide but the truth is, there is no such thing as a poor question – only ones to be correctly rephrased.
Leaders are usually extremely busy individuals who manage groups of people and protocols while hardly given the chance for a breather or to sit down for a Q&A. So, when the time comes for your next boardroom meeting, leadership forum or panel, it is important to bombard your leaders with powerful questions that can truly improve the effectiveness of your organization.
It is only through consistent, candid and well-structured feedback that leaders can better understand the groundwork of employees and develop powerful initiatives.
In other words, never make it personal. You may dislike a member of the board for his lack of creativity, apathy or just because of the unusual way he walks or sneezes, but constructive forums target issues, not people. Instead of calling out a leader on his lack of foresight on an upcoming project, research and provide the exact details and explain why it may seem unfeasible.
By respectfully addressing issues and concerns backed up with factual evidence, most leaders will be more than willing to formulate solutions alongside the team.
Make the most out of your leadership Q&A by preparing a list of questions a day or two before the scheduled session. This gives you ample time to plan out your thoughts while making necessary edits if required. Treat the upcoming session as a major school exam. You want to enter the exam hall beaming with confidence, to ace the test with flying colors. Write your questions on your palm, scribble them down on a piece of wastepaper or type it out on your phone – note them as soon as they occur in your head before they disappear.
The main purpose of questioning leaders is to improve upon the status quo, but queries should not seem overly aggressive or ineffective. The trick lies in applying strategic questions with the right cues that will encourage leaders to provide greater insight into an issue. Examples include, “what would you do in the unlikely case that the plan doesn’t succeed?” or “what problems might our product face if feature A was replaced with feature B?”. The aim is to ask effective questions with slight suggestions, without forcing your point across.
Performance reviews should not be confined to individual staff KPI reports. The only way to chart future courses is by knowing where you currently stand. Frequent progress updates can help keep everyone on the team in the know of things. Find out more about the status of a product launch, deal discussions, customer feedback, competitor breakdowns, or any other information that leaders may have at their fingertips. The transparency will improve staff morale and keep the team united towards achieving a common goal.
Inserting suggestions at the end of a question can go a long way. Leaders are bound to notice employees who are proactive in the problem-solving process and may groom them for future leadership positions. Ultimately, leaders are special individuals who represent a group of people in solving challenges. Making acute observations can help direct leaders and teams to points they may have overlooked. An example may be, “I realized that the widget on the health app was often overlooked by users, what about centralizing its position?”
Leaders are there to ensure smooth operation in an organization. Every question posed by an employee is a conscious attempt at acquiring answers that provide clarity towards improving existing procedures and processes.
In modern times, coaching and mentoring leadership styles have become increasingly popular as they promote cooperation, innovation and a genuine sense of appreciation. Employees can also further improve their work experience by asking leaders sincere questions targeted at positive change.