by Matti Straub-Fischer
How to lead your team to new horizons and success? What have been your 3 biggest learnings in the last week working with your people? What is needed now?
Questions are most likely one of the most valuable tools in leadership – both to lead ourselves as well as when we are wanting to bring the best out of our team. The relevance of asking questions in our collaborations every day are crucial – as it is one of the only ways how we can invite another person or a group to share what is inside of them. As leaders we can not read minds. We can interprete bodylanguage, gestures and words or actions, but we can not see into another person and know what they are feeling right now. Therefore asking a question to invite the other to share what is going on, what is on his or her heart or what they see is needed in this very moment of a project is a powerful way to open up, to connect and to learn with one another.
For those of us who are guiding or mentoring young people in sports and teamplay, using questions is essential to get to know our people and understand better what is going on in their lives off the field that will influence how they can play and perform ON the field. The same applies for working places or in education: when one of our colleagues does not bring his or her best into the game, it is likely that the reasons leading to the dropping of the energy has something to do with other territories of our lives. So it is good to not just make assumptions about one of our people, but to explore and find out what is really going on. The better we are getting at creating a culture of trust and collaboration where concerns, emotions and impactful experiences are shared with eachother, the more resilient a team is when it needs to source energy for an important moment together and to support eachother when that is needed.
The first people they had questions and they were free. The second people they had answers and they became enslaved.
Every trainer and coach can start with 3 lists of helpful questions: The first list is for valuable questions for myself as trainer and guide. What questions help me to stay on track? How can I stay present with what is? And how can I support everyone in our team to bring out their talents and their gifts and learn together?
The 2nd list is for questions I can ask my team: You are looking sad/angry. What happened? How are you feeling since your physiotherapy-session for your knees? What is needed for you to show up on time for our practice? There are many questions – some more encouraging, others more confronting, again others more exploring or some that are more evoking skills and energy from within.
And the 3rd list of questions is for you to anticipate what may be in the field. Why are we having to do this intense training again, coach? Can I skip the fitness test? Why are you not running with us? All of these questions show how important it is to create a culture where everything can be questioned. This way young people learn that their voices are heard and that they matter. Because only when our young ones are encouraged to ask the questions they have, will we be able to teach them certain skills or understandings to deal with challenging situations or moments. This 3rd list can help you as a leader or as a coach to get ready for the uncomfortable, the danger zone. How can you respond and not react? How can you listen to the other without feeling offended? How can you be transparent that a question is triggering you and that you will reflect on it and come back when you have done your work and contemplation? These kinds of questions enable us as leaders, trainers and teachers to not create a pyramid of power over others, but enabling us to be on the same eye-level with them and with life.
The Power of Questions is an important training module in our global Guardians of Transformation mastery training program for Regenerative Entrepreneurship and Transformation, a part time apprenticeship training program over 4 years for people to grow themselves as entrepreneurs and as transformation facilitators for their communities, their clients and partners. As consultants, guides and mentors we regularly look into our question-toolbox in our further trainings and the Coaching Corners with our international group of trainers and coaches of young sport teams worldwide. And when we are harvesting an event or a training together, we always ask ourselves the questions: What did we appreciate about this training? And what would we do differently a next time? This, too, helps us to stay on track and to keep learning and growing ourselves as individuals and as a team.
Matti Straub-Fischer is a Senior Consultant & Council Guide at 7Generations. For the past 30 years he has been working with teams worldwide and some of his favourite questions are: Why not? What if... you could just dream your future... how would it look like? And what would you most love to do then? Matti lives with his wife in the Gantrisch area outside of Bern, Switzerland.