Huh? by Dr. Robert Gerwig

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Are you a lover of questions? I am. … Thinking back over the years, there’s no telling how many hours I’ve spent listening to presentations, reading a detailed analysis someone put together or reviewing mountains of data. Let’s just say, it’s a LOT! Probably man-years worth of time. I’m amazed and disappointed that there is often little, if any, “so what” at the end of these time investments.

You sit through the sermon, but there is no “application” given. You read one of the BILLIONS (slight exaggeration) of “self help” books but you don’t do anything with it. You didn’t take notes. You didn’t put together an action plan. You didn’t “DO” anything.

“Question asking” is a skill. I believe it is one of the key leadership skills. Period. … Insightful questions. Strategic questions. Tough questions. Clarifying questions. Clearly, no all questions are the same. Some are really “points” someone is trying to make? Some are not truly legitimate or reasonable questions. Some are just stupid – off topic, inappropriate, etc. Yet a good question is worth its weight in gold.

As noted, I am a “question lover.” Why? It causes me to think. To think differently. To stretch.

One time, early in my working life, I went in to my boss’s office and complained about a very inefficient process. After about 20 minutes, when I ran out of steam, he looked at me and said, “OK. What are you going to do about it?” … Me? I wanted him to fix the problem. I’d never thought that maybe I could show some ownership and help solve the problem.

Another time, after listening to a presentation on a new product that was being evaluated for release in Latin America, a sharp executive asked, “How will that impact our current product strategy in Asia Pacific?” Huh? The team hadn’t considered that before (though it turned out there was a key impact.

Questions are critical. They can help close a sale. They can motivate us to improve and develop ourselves. They can change the current course of action. They can improve a product or service. They can stop a project or start a new one.

A good question clarifies. Causes others to think more deeply. Improves the likelihood of success. Reduces waste. Leads to breakthrough technology. Brings out the best in others. A good question causes me to say, “Huh?” – either out loud, in my brain, or both.

A world-class leader asks good questions of those around him, including himself. … The key question is not what did Pontius Pilate do with Jesus; the question is what are you going to do?

What are you going to do TODAY as a result of reading this article? … By the way, I’m asking myself that same question.

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

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