“Leading with Questions” by Michael J. Marquardt


“Asking rather than telling, questions rather than answers, has become the key to leadership excellence and success in the twenty-first century.” That, in a nutshell, is the premise of this book.

Marquardt who has taught and written extensively on action learning shares the wisdom of leading with questions.

The book is divided into three sections: The Power of Questions; Asking Questions Effectively; and A Guide for Leaders of Using Questions. Throughout the book the author uses quotes from interviews of top business leaders about their use of questions.

The Power of Questions begins with examples of disasters such as the sinking of Titanic, the explosion of the Challenger spacecraft, and the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. The cause of each disaster is attributed to a lack of questioning. Chapter 2 is a stirring recital of the benefits of questions. Questions open up perspectives, new learning, greater team work, create an empowering environment, help people gain a voice, increases listening, innovation, while reducing conflicts. It sounds like a miracle drug! Except that it’s true. Questions are at the core of my business and I can attest to their transformational power!

The second part of the book is the strongest. It’s the “how to” section on forming questions that will achieve all the benefits mentioned earlier. The author goes beyond simply giving lists of good questions (as some other books on questions do) and teaches you how to actually form a powerful question.

Good questions he says are, “those that accomplish their purpose as well as build a positive relationship between the questioner and the questionee.” He gives plenty of tips how to do this. He also addresses hinderances such as a judging or blame mentality.

The final section of the book puts questions into practice in various settings such as supervision, problem solving, and team building. Each chapter covers a different setting with 10-20 key questions and how to use them effectively.

Leading with questions is one of those skills where you think, “Yes, I want to be this way. Help me do it!” Leading with questions is a skill that requires breaking old habits and forming new more productive ones. Are you ready to increase your learning? Are you ready to tap into the potential of the people around you? Are you ready to make breakthroughs and create innovations? Then questions are for you!

What are you waiting for?

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    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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