The Magic of Questions for Breakthrough Leadership
As leaders, we must continually ask questions that enable rather than restrict. When inevitable moments of hardship arise we can use the power of questions to draw out a special quality within us to transform doubt into determination, fear into fortitude. That special quality is our resiliency.
Resiliency builds our inspiration and our toughness. It is that unstoppable ability we all possess to keep on coming. The single greatest challenge to our resiliency is our own doubt. Unchecked, doubt can breed hopelessness, which can cause us to give up on our goals and dreams. When this occurs, we become detached, pessimistic, and sarcastic. This is a downward spiral that is repeated every day in the business community, in relationships, and within our own spirits.
As a leader watch out for two downward spiraling questions:
Will this work? HIQ - Hopelessness Inducing Question (when said with doubt, fear, and skepticism)
Will this EVER work? HAQ - Hopelessness ASSURED Question
When you hear these questions being asked, they are important signs that doubt is brewing and that forward momentum is being challenged by organizational uncertainty.
Question 1, “Will this work?”, is called a HIQ (pronounced hick), a Hopelessness Inducing Question. If asked with genuine curiosity, it is simply an innocent question. But when the question is asked consistently with doubt, fear, or skepticism, the seed of hopelessness has been planted. The underlying meaning has been transformed from an open, unbiased question to a doubt-filled presupposition. They are really asking: “This probably won’t work, will it?’ The question has become a HIQ. It festers and inflames with constant repetition.
Gradually, the seed of hopelessness takes root. The Reverend Robert Schuller has noted that human beings have a magnificent capacity to add superlatives to our observations, questions, and evaluations. When the basic HIQ – “Will this work?” --is asked repeatedly with growing doubt and pessimism brewing below the surface, question 2 begins to replace it. The addition of one word –ever -- makes a profound difference in the depth of personal and organizational hopelessness.
The new question is, “Will this EVER work?” We call this question a HAQ (pronounced hack) -- a Hopelessness Assured Question! At this point, the question has become a statement of learned helplessness. Though the words, “Will this ever work?” are uttered, the real meaning has become, “This will NEVER work.”
When HAQs are voiced consistently throughout your organization, synergy and momentum come to a grinding halt. Employees put in their time, but give only the bare minimum. This is an organization in trouble. The same is true in relationships when these disabling questions take hold. HIQs and HAQs are running rampant, sapping personal accountability and the vitality that accompanies a sense of positive expectation. It’s a crucial moment for leadership to ignite a transition from doubt and helplessness to initiative.
In my next Breakthrough Article, we’ll learn the questions that you can use as a leader to transform fear to freedom, failure to faith!