An action without a question is like baking a cake without first knowing what flavors people like. The data you don’t have could have major implications for the way things turn out.
Except in the most severe scenarios (and realistically, even in those situations), there is always time to ask a question.
And that question can make all the difference between a positive change, and one that you thought would be positive but wasn’t received as such.
As leaders, we all have to make decisions. However, sometimes that desire to be a decision-maker (not for ourselves, but because we believe our community needs it) prevents us from remembering to be a question-asker.
And that’s a bad thing.
So, how can you make sure that you ask before you act? You can take these two very simple steps.
First, when faced with a decision that needs to be made, use the twenty-four hour rule. Stop and think about it for a full day. Have you asked enough questions about the situation to feel as if you can come up with an appropriate course of action? If not, make sure you continue your queries. But what if you don’t have twenty-four hours? Then use the twenty-four second rule. Give yourself half a minute to ask those around you the most important questions you can think of. In dire situations, those thirty seconds can help you collect enough information to do what’s right.
Second, build a culture of questioning. Your school, district, or organization has the opportunity to be a pillar of curiosity, if you let it. By building an interest in questioning the world around us, we not only help cultivate curious members of society, we also showcase the importance of collecting information before we speak or act. The easiest way to do this is to be a question asker yourself and help your staff move in that direction as well. Questions are easy to ask, when everyone is asking them.
Truthfully, in order to make appropriate decisions we have to at first understand the questions that need to be asked. Chances are, if we ask the right questions, then our decisions will be more relevant for those that we serve.