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Questions from Left Field

Questions from Left Field

Apr 2018

How is your project going? Good. How was your day at school? Good. How are you going? Good. Good! How can everything be going good? It just doesn’t make sense!

As leaders we ask questions to help gain insight. We ask them to help us better understand who, what and where we are leading. Yet, we just hear standard generic answers. Usually telling us that everything is ‘good’.

I believe we receive the ‘good’ response for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons may include;

• People aren’t comfortable sharing how things are really going
• People haven’t really thought about how they are going
• People are just deep down scared

So how do we dig deeper and better understand? It’s simple. Ask questions. Off centre, left field, creative questions.
Here are some examples of questions I ask;

• In interviews – What would your spouse say is your greatest strength or asset? In your circle of friends, who is the person everyone looks to when implementing ideas (like camping trips or holidays)?
• At a project meeting – If you had any super power for this project over the last month what would it have been? Describe your team members as types of cars, or pieces of sporting equipment.
• To my kids – What colour was your day? If you were a kitchen appliance today, what would you have been?

These questions don’t allow you to answer ‘good’. By using these types of questions, I have found people start providing more honest answers. These types of questions appear to disarm. First, it is hard for the other person to determine what a ‘negative’ answer would be. Secondly, it provides them an opportunity to consider the situation from a completely different perspective. Both these disarming facts tend to lead to answers that better reflect the situation.

I recently spent a number of months working closely with a Project Manager to better understand how his project was progressing. I intentionally used this ‘left field’ question approach each time we met. It provided a very relaxed, but efficient way of understanding project progress and issues.

The challenge for you is to be able to develop a number of your own questions and interpret the answers appropriately. Take up the challenge and see how much fun you and the people you ask have discussing ‘normal business stuff’!

At Joseph Consulting we are passionate about empowering leaders and their organisations to achieve success. Please call Joseph Consulting to discuss how we can help you build strategies that will empower your leaders and gain organisational success.


Jason Gallagher
Director, Joseph Consulting

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