Two Characteristics of a Successful Leader – Questioning and Listening

In business, we are always looking for solutions to problems where a fresh perspective would be helpful. Consultants and gurus are ready to help you, but for a fee. So, one of the first things you can do is interact directly with people who have the clearest view of what you’re doing wrong… and right.

The Main Step Towards Finding Your Solution is Asking Questions of Your Employees, Customers and Vendors

It’s not difficult, but requires work and planning. There is no magic formula, no tightly kept secret. It’s simply common sense. After you ask your employees, customers, and vendors questions, you face the most important step: what do you do with what you’ve learned? Even down-times history has shown that those who are aggressive gain market share when the good times return. This is your chance.

Why the Q & A Process?

Q & A is most crucial in challenging times, and the one word description of what this process entails is dialogue.


  • Causes an exchange of ideas & stimulates discussions
  • Initiates a channel of communications
  • Expands the flow of information
  • Creates a positive attitude in the work environment

Dialogue shows that money isn’t all that’s needed to compete: it’s the attitude to be open-minded; the willingness to think differently; and the desire to outmaneuver the competition rather than merely outspend them.

Who Should Ask the Questions? Who Should Give the Answers?

Asking questions is not just for middle management; it requires the owner to leave their office. And keep in mind: there isn’t just one person or department that has a monopoly on good ideas (hint: everyone could have one or many). Thus, all employees appreciate the opportunity to express those good ideas. It’s just common sense.

Helpful Tactics:

  • Restate the Statement. When you have heard their response, restate it back to them in a summary to ensure you have heard them correctly and have absorbed their input.
  • Take Notes. If you are face-to-face, ask them if they mind. If their response is long and detailed, you might ask if you can record it.
  • Create a positive and welcoming atmosphere. “Shoot the Messenger” managing style guarantees poor performance, lack of input and minimum growth.
  • Report! Report! Report! This process should be an ongoing effort, and if you want full-spirited cooperation, let the participants know what decisions have been made based on their valued contributions.
  • Say Thank You. Good manners never go out of style; praise is one of the most effective and cost-efficient rewards.

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