Last week, I gave you nine ways organizations benefit when their leaders improve their questioning skills. Once you see those benefits, the next logical question is: How do we help leaders build those skills?

In some ways, the answer to this question would be the same as building any other skill for your leaders, but there are a couple of specifics that are especially important. Here is the full list.

Create the Business Need 

The article mentioned above can be a starting point. One or more of those advantages are likely directly connected to your strategic direction. Connect your strategies to the development of this skill to build organizational and individual leader commitment. Building questioning skills in your leaders can be a very tangible and specific way to operationalize strategies that are sometimes hard to implement.

Shift the Mindset and Paradigm

Think about how and why you promote leaders and what the prevalent leadership style is in your organization. If leaders in your organization are seen as the source of knowledge and decisions, this step will be more important to you. Before any leader will be open to building their questioning skills, they must see it as a part of what makes leaders successful in your organizational culture and context.

Set Clear Expectations

Be careful not to jump right to this step. Making questioning skills a specific expectation for your leaders does not automatically mean you are golden. Without the two previous points, this can ring hollow. You must also sufficiently incentivize and motivate your leaders to change their thinking and behavior.

Make It a Priority

Make it a priority both for training and in the daily work of the leaders. It is one thing to introduce a new training component or module. It is another to make questioning skills an important part of the approach to leadership in your organization.

Provide Instruction on Specific Skills

To build skills – whether questioning skills or anything else – people need a toolkit. Whether in a workshop setting, through eLearning, or other means, you must give people the tools they need to build their skills.

Integrate These Skills with Other Leadership Learning

Notice I didn’t say “Just add it to your existing leadership development process.” Questioning skills are a foundation-level component, upon which many other leadership skills are built. The mindsets, approaches, and prioritization of questioning skills must be woven into all your development activities and content. It can’t be simply a stand-alone piece, or a new component of your leadership development process. Otherwise, there may be legacy learning that subtly (or not so subtly) contradicts this approach.

Make It a Journey

Recognize that changing any skill across a group of people will take time. When the skill you are developing requires a shift in mindset as well, patience is needed.

Define Personal Benefits

One could argue this should be at the top of this list. But wherever you put it, it is important. There are plenty of personal benefits for leaders to develop their questioning skills, both at work and in their personal lives. When you help them see these benefits, the willingness to learn and change will grow tremendously. This personal lens is too often forgotten in leadership development efforts.

Developing questioning skills is a key, foundational component to fostering your leadership talent and increasing your results. I would even say it is one of the most powerful skills a leader can possess. Use these tips to start your organization’s journey to greater success through more effective leadership.

Want help developing skills for your leaders or thinking about your leadership development strategies? 

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