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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    The Right Questions

    “What do you want me to do?” Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs sometimes empowers his players by stepping back, and letting them figure out their next step in the game. They’ve risen to the occasion by giving “Coach Pop” 16 consecutive winning seasons, more than any other active NBA coach.

    “How to you turn this company from aid provider to economic development? Blake Mycoskie, CEO of TOMS Shoes faced this question during a two year break from running his company, during which he reflected on his future role. The answer? He’s started TOMS Roasting, which sells beans in grocery stores, and in his branded cafes. Mycoskie found that coffee farmers provide the best economic development in the countries to which they donate. So to continue his model of “buy one give one”, for each bag sold TOMS will provide one week of clean water to a person in need, and for each beverage sold they will provide one day of clean water. Water is the number one ingredient in premium beans, yet many people in these countries lack clean water for their personal use.

    “When are you going to drop the ‘interim’ title?” Jay Stein, then Interim CEO of Stein Mart, an off-price retail store, was asked this question several years ago by a reporter. Jay is the grandson of founder Sam Stein who started the family store in the early 1900s, and now boasts $1.3 billion in sales from 266 stores, with another 25 in the works. Jay had retired after heart by-pass surgery thinking that someone else could do a better job running the company. But after three failed CEOs he stepped in again on an interim basis.  This reporter’s question caused an epiphany as he recognized the negative impact of continuously shifting and ineffective leadership. His response? “Right now.” They made a public announcement and the organization has moved smoothly forward.


    The Power of a Question

    These are examples of the right questions; powerful questions that once answered, provide direction, clarity and purpose. They’re necessary for our continual development and well-being; indispensable and essential for our growth. The right questions may ask What, Why or How. They’re designed to coach, facilitate and motivate others to think deeply into their situation and determine their next steps. My friend Christian Simpson, an internationally acclaimed expert in professional coaching, describes this as effective questions that invite the person to a greater level of discovery, clarity and action. Properly posed and authentically answered, they create buy-in to the future.

    Whether in a group meeting or one-on-one dialogue, the right questions can refocus the discussion, reenergize the conversation and restructure the approach. They can cut to the heart of the issue; cause you to stop and think about what you’re doing and why; and challenge you to make the right decision for the right reason.

    The Right Perspective

    So possibly you’re wondering how you can leverage the power of the right questions to have more productive business and personal discussions, ensure alignment of specific decisions with your vision or mission, generate increased business, or to coach others towards success.

    Asking the right questions is a matter of perspective. It requires an objective look at the situation, or the ability to step back for a moment and view the proverbial forest instead of the trees. It may require a deeper look into the future. It requires greater interest in letting the other party find the right answer, than in you telling them what to do. It’s a matter of getting them to think through their priorities, objectives, and strategies and come to their own realization of their necessary actions. It may require listening deeply to what is not specifically stated, to the underlying motivating principles and priorities. It may involve asking the question that is screamingly obvious to you that no one else dares to ask or that everyone else is blinded to; or probing deeper into the circumstances and thought processes of the people involved.

    The right questions also require the right timing for the respondent to be receptive. I had a discussion with a client several months ago regarding a colleague that he continually wanted to include in meetings. The colleague was well known in certain business circles and brought a level of credibility to his team, but the colleague’s area of specialty wasn’t well aligned with this client’s business goals. Finally, the timing was right for me to directly ask what value this colleague added. The client thought for a moment and came to the realization that there was no value, but he now owned the decision. Similarly Coach Pop’s timing in letting his team figure out the right next strategy helped them to better understand how to apply their skills to the challenges on the court.

    Blake Mycoskie and Jay Stein’s right questions helped them make major decisions in their work and their lives. They didn’t avoid the response but embraced it and experienced growth. So appreciate and value the people in your life who are insightful and who venture to ask you the right questions


    Read more about Gregg Popovich  here.

    Read more about Blake Mycoskie here

    Read more about Jay Stein here


    Copyright 2014 Priscilla Archangel

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