Have you ever heard this statement: "There are a lot of people who are not happy with your decision!" Or something like that? Most leaders will hear that question and immediately react. I have developed something over the years of leadership called 'the art of the next question." If I had a staff member tell me the above statement I would respond with, "How many?" I would let them answer. Then I would ask, "Who?" Typically that "there are a lot" comes down to only three or even less.
Most leaders fail to ask the next question so they can get the right information. Imagine me thinking there are a lot of people unhappy with my decision vs there is only one. That's a huge difference. One of the most important things you can do when it comes to information is manage the art of the next question. Trust me, it'll save you a lot of misinformation.
Asking questions is really a part of leadership. One additional question can lead to a deep and engaging conversation. The best of leaders are always on a quest for information and one of the greatest detail collectors is questions.
There are a lot of leadersip blogs, articles, and books on asking the right questions, but very few address this idea of the next question. You see, to be an unleashed leader you have to master the art of the next question. It will lead you to the answers you need in order to have the right responses or make the correct decisions. Questions are part of life, make them part of your leadership.
Why is the art of the next question so vital? First, it allows you access to additional information. You cannot make decisions until you have all the necessary information. That means you keep asking the next question until you get all of the answers you need. I'll have many staff members come to me with information, but it's not enough and I will look at them and they will respond, "I should have asked the next question." My response, "Yep."
Second, the art of the next question reveals the information behind the individual bringing you information. It's not just the content you are evaluating. You are looking into the carrier of information to see if they have potential leadership or they're just a task completer. The person who always fails to ask the next question is just a doer, but the person who is growing in their capacity to ask the next question reveals their leadership capability. In our culture, if a person does not ask the next question they will not be elevated in our organization. It just shows a lack of leadership proficiency.
Finally, the art of the next question allows you to see in more detail what is happening below the surface. In leadership and in life, detail matters! Some people and even some staff can cover things over, but when you keep pounding next question after next question it is easier to see what's being hidden. You may discover hidden agendas, beliefs, and personal projects. Below the surface is where deep truth lies.
Questions are part of leadership, but most leaders don't ask enough questions. The questions will annoy employees, but they will reveal your leaders. Master the art of the next question and watch your leadership rise to another level.