Performance & Hotrod Business February '14

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n BE A LEADER By Timothy F. Bednarz The Right Questions T to questioning is a highly disciplined process. The questioner must take on the role of acting as "an inner critical voice," which expands another's mind to skillfully develop deeper critical thinking abilities. Questioning for thought-provoking insight and understanding, and for inducing more indepth thinking in another individual, requires a tactical approach. For instance, verbal contributions that come from employees when they are questioned can be compared to an array of numerous thoughts that simultaneously flow from one's mind. Yet, all of the thoughts must be dealt with, weighed and carefully analyzed in an unbiased and fair manner. If leaders or managers follow up on all of the answers initially given by employees with further questions that work to advance the discussion, employees are forced to think in a disciplined, intellectually responsible manner. At the same time, the questioning process continually aids their own personal agenda to gain more insight and knowledge through posing selective, yet effective, facilitating discussion lead-ins. he tactical approach Excerpt: "Effective Questioning Techniques: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series" (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011). To learn more about author and publisher Timothy F. Bednarz, email or visit www. The oldest and still most powerful tool for instilling critical thinking and mental self-evaluation is questioning. Questions, Not Answers The oldest and still most powerful tool for instilling critical thinking and mental self-evaluation is questioning. In order to glean and gather as much usable information as possible, and to change individual perceptions about something, leaders and managers must remain focused on interjecting questions to employees, rather than offering answers. It is important to practice and model the inquiry process, by continually probing employees on topics, subject-related contexts or mental thinking patterns through the use of very specific questions. The abilities individuals gain by becoming involved in the process and by focusing on the elements of reasoning in a disciplined and self-assessing way tend to enhance employees' sensitivity to others' points of view, problem solving and decision-making skills. A solid questioning process also helps provide a more balanced mental structure and framework to use in the future, which results from generating and incorporating logical mental relationships that tend to enhance more disciplined thought. There are three basic ways to instill changes and alterations in employees' thinking: questioning them for viewpoints and perspectives, questioning them for implications and consequences, and questioning them about the question being asked. Questioning for Viewpoints & Perspectives As the discussion and questioning leader, it is important for leaders to encourage employees to slow their thinking down in order to elaborate upon their responses. Employees must be given the opportunity to develop and test their ideas, standpoints and opinions. Leaders must take employee responses seriously and determine to what extent and in what way the information or assertion is true, or if it makes sense. In order to do this, they need to wonder aloud what the employee is saying and thinking, what the person means, the response's significance, its relationship to other beliefs, and how what is being said can be tested for reliability. Most arguments employees give are from a particular, yet structured, point of view. As part February 2014 PHBFEB.indd 85 BUSINESS Seeking insight often leads to better business. n Performance & Hotrod Business n 85 1/3/14 12:22 PM

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