How to Quit Asking Bad Questions and Start Asking Great Questions

As leaders, we are expected to ask a lot of questions, and not because we are nosey, but we ThinkstockPhotos-158217439want to get a good grasp on what is going on in our organization. We don’t just ask “why?”, we ask, “who, what, when, where” and even “how?” It’s a natural instinct for us to ask questions.

Jeff Haden says, “We ask leading questions. Or we ask limiting questions. Or we ask questions that assume a certain answer. (Shoot, sometimes we don’t even listen to the answers — we’re too busy presuming we’re right.)” He goes on to share some ways people ask questions the wrong way and how to ask in the right way:


“Don’t you think we should go ahead and release that order?”
“Should we just scrap everything and rework the whole job or should we ship everything and hope the customer doesn’t notice?”

A better way:

“What do you think we should do about that order?”
“There are defects throughout the whole order. What do you think we should do?”

Haden also shares how to ask great questions:

  1. Limit the actual question to one sentence.
  2. Provide options in the question only if those truly are the only options.
  3. Don’t shade the question.
  4. Follow the same principles for follow-up questions.
  5. Talk as little as possible.