“You cannot find wisdom it finds you. The search for knowledge is not a search for answers or information. It is a search for questions. There is nothing more precious than a good question. A good question can be your companion for a lifetime. You will never feel lonely. Good questions are very tricky. There is hidden underneath the question another dozen questions that sneak up on you when you are least expecting it. Before you realize it you are deeply immersed in curiosity. This of course is the key - curiosity. Curiosity sets you on a path that wisdom frequents.“
Understanding the questions that leaders hold is very important. The questions that leaders hold and how they use them often shapes what are possible in a community.
Steven is often hired when change is necessary. He believes people don’t change unless they are uncomfortable. He likes the challenge of broken situations and doesn’t care what others think about him. One of his key questions is – “how do I create pain or discomfort?” He looks for people’s soft spots and asks – “how do I keep them off balance?”
Mary is head of Human Resources. Her questions focus on others. Her central question is – “how are the people who work here?” She deeply believes if people are well the company will be successful. She carries this question wherever she goes and asks it also about her children, her friends, and the community in which she lives.
Bob loves competing. He hates to lose. When he sets his eyes on something or is given a goal he accepts and looks for the shortest, straightest path to get to his goal. After all there is nothing wrong with a collateral damage. His singular question is – “what do I need to do to win?” He views relationships with the question –, “how can this person help or hinder to meet my goals?”
Sheryl is runs a large technology company. She is brilliant, with the capacity to sift through large amounts of information and find both inconsistencies and see patterns. Her central question is – “how good is the information I am receiving?” She uses this question to make key decisions in her worklife and at home.
Paul has made steady consistent progress in his career with regular promotions. People trust him to produce results. His employees know that he doesn’t like surprises. His central question is How do I avoid making a mistake?
Every leader holds a cluster of questions which guide behavior as he or she navigates through making decisions. These questions are near and dear friends, well used some are used publically and others privately. Sometimes it takes time to understand all your questions and to find the deeper ones. Ask a friend or colleague what they think are the questions are you use to guide you in making decisions?
Once you have a list of your questions reflect on them asking yourself – How do these questions serve me?
Do my questions connect or separate me from my community? Do my questions connect or separate my community from other communities? How do they support my learning and the learning of those around me to consider new possibilities? Do they evaluate and judge closing off possibilities?
Finally ask yourself where do my questions come from?
Who taught me these questions? What beliefs are attached to my questions?
Those who practice shared leadership often carry these types of questions with them:
· How does my behavior impact others?
· What do people need?
· What are the unintended consequences of our decisions? Who benefits? Who is harmed?
· How can we involve people?
· How do I create spaces for dialogue and learning?
· How are the children effected by our decisions?
· What are the prayers of the community?
· How do I build connections across communities?
· How do I create collaboration not competition to solve complex problems?
· What kind of future are we creating? Does anything need to change
What are your questions?
How do they serve you?
Where did they come from?