The Power of a Question


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Recently, one of my clients requested coaching for her front-line employees.

Coaching is always exciting, I love it!  Most of my coaching is done with executives, managers, or business owners.  So this manager’s decision to provide coaching for her staff is a gift to them, the team, the business unit.

After exploring needs and calendars we scheduled their Employee Leadership Development session. I’m excited for them.

Later that evening while walking with my wife, Rita I shared the story. She celebrated with me.  Then, simply asked, “How does it compare to your 1on1 Executive Coaching and Next Level TEAM Coaching?”

Her open-ended question immediately caused me to stop and think.

That’s what a well-framed question does, invites us to stop and think. That’s good.

Her question sent me on a journey. Over the next couple of days my answer came. The answer brings greater clarity and focus to my practice as a certifed executive coach. 

Well-framed questions are powerful.

How do questions help?

The open-ended question is a request for information and designed to help us stop and explore for truth.

1.  Slow things Down

Questions  s l o w   t h i n g s   d o w n; do you ever need protection from knee-jerk re-actions. What might happen if you ask a question before giving away a piece of your mind?

Have you noticed how quickly you can answer a “yes/no” question? However, an open-ended question (those starting with who, what, how, when, where, or why) can interrupt and slow down an emotionally charged conversation.  That’s good.

2.  Demonstrate Respect

How do you react when being told what to do?  Come on, now, what is your typical response to being “told”?

How do you respond when “the boss” seeks your input?  Most of us feel respected when our input is sought through an open-ended quesiton.

 Yes, a well-framed, open-ended question is helpful and powerful.

3.  Create Space

Often if we are to discover truth we need space: time and place to think.  

Creating space is the disciplined use of time and place and resources for reflection on the truth found in the story.  Your story. The story…what factually happened? 

We must slow the pace to create the space required to experience personal development.  To listen to our story. 

There is a time conspiracy – a subversive plot to keep us so busy we don’t have time or a place for thinking, consideration, consistent reflection. 

Why the pursuit of truth in the story?

Truth liberates.

Truth sheds light and opens our minds to possibilities.

What happens if we run from the truth (reality/facts)?  Our growth and potential is hindered; in effect we run from future success.

What is the best predictor of future success is?

The Best Predictor of Future Success is the ability and willingness to learn and change achieved through consistent reflection on truth found in the story.          

– Steve Laswell

Questions help us give careful thought to reality…the facts, when examined, become feedback.  Truth allows us to choose; we can change unproductive behavior, enlarge our influence (leadership), and achieve success…yes, make a difference in the world.

Here are a few questions for fun, pick one and see what happens as you reflect on it…

  • If purpose gives birth to the best within us, what are you birthing?
  • If “raising the bar” is about the next level…where do you want to raise the bar?
  • What is blocking your ability to show up well and expand your influence?
  • What do you need to prioritize today in order to achieve your dream?

Questions (open-ended) can help us slow down an emotionally charge conversation, demonstrate respect, and create space to discover solutions.

Rita’s question created an additional coaching service.  That demonstrates the power of a question.

How effective are you in using questions?

How much space do you have in your daily life for reflection?

Would you please forward to ONE friend?

What do you think…comment below; I’d love to hear from you. 


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This entry was posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 11:47 pm and is filed under Leadership Development, Personal Development, Personal Growth, Personal Success, Results. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.