Ask Good Questions

Teachers will remind us that, “there’s no such thing as a dumb question.” And that’s true. However, in business there are questions that seek to dig deeper and make our leader think, and then there are questions that take up our leader’s valuable time or make our leader think for us.

Good Questions:

  • Help us understand our leader’s thought process behind their decisions so that we can learn to approach opportunities and challenges as they would
  • Make our leader think about options or obstacles they haven’t considered
  • Allow us to gain a better understanding of our organization or our industry

Examples of Good Questions:

  • “Can you explain to me how you came to that decision? I want to understand your thought process so I can understand how you approach these situations.”
  • “I know that the last time we worked with a client like this turnover was a huge issue. How do you see us dealing with that issue this time around?”
  • “How do you envision XYZ Product fitting into the marketplace?”

Poor Questions:

  • Answer something that you could learn on your own if you did your research
  • Make your leader think for you
  • Bring no value to the conversation

Examples of Poor Questions:

  • “What are other companies in our region who do what we do?” (A quick Internet search would give you a good idea of who your competitors are.)
  • “What should I do?” (Instead, offer up what you think you should do, then ask your leader for their thoughts on your proposed actions.)
  • “Why do we have to help accounting again? They’re always asking for help.” (Complaining about things out of your control – and your leader’s control – just brings more frustration to you and your leader.)

The next time you meet with your leader on a project, write down two or three good questions you will ask.

What questions do you like to ask your leader?

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  • […] Smart questions are those questions that help us learn how to improve for our customers, how to understand our leader’s thought process, or how to offer the best solution for someone’s needs. And we’ve all heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question,” but questions that only benefit us or ones that we could figure out the answer to ourselves (if we took the time) are self-serving and rarely benefit our customers, teammates, or leaders. […]