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ASK OR TELL
The Power of Asking The Force of Telling
© 2006 David Deane-Spread and Terry Old
CONTENTS: What’s Important about “Asking” and “Telling”? How to Determine Whether to Ask or Tell The 10 Rules of Effective Asking The 10 Rules of Effective Telling The 4 Rules for Effective Listening The Walk and Talk Process The Method for Getting Critical Tasks Done The Structure of a Spontaneous Coaching Session Leadership Q’s to Ask Yourself Leadership Q’s to Ask Your Team Leadership Q’s to Ask Members Who Need to Improve Leadership Q’s to Ask Your Peers Leadership Q’s to Ask Your Senior Leaders Leadership Q’s to Ask Existing & Past Clients Leadership Q’s to Ask Prospective Clients About David Deane-Spread and Terry Old 4 5 6 6 7 7 8 9 10 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 .
Telling is forceful . That is not a crisis or emergency. Telling can be best used in emergencies or crisis whilst asking can be used in most other scenarios. If telling is overused in normal workplace scenarios there is a tendency to have to re-tell and re-work. There is less conflict in asking. when in fact they are just facing heavy workloads. In normal workplace scenarios asking is more effective because it causes both thinking and ownership and requires less re-working.the answer is owned by the person responding. Asking is respectful and telling can be dominating. . and it empowers them to think.it instructs the person to do just what is being told and requires less thinking. There is a potential to rebel against telling. There is not necessarily any sense of ownership.What’s Important about “Asking” and “Telling”? Do you prefer being asked or would you rather be told? Do you think adults like being “told” or do they believe they deserve the respect of being “asked”? Which do you feel gets the best results. People often behave as though there is always a crisis. asking or telling? When do you believe telling is necessary? In the workplace which saves most time – asking or telling? Is there sufficient evidence to support your answer? Have you noticed whether “telling” is an automatic behaviour? Have you noticed whether “asking” requires more thought? Can you develop both skills of asking and telling and the understanding of when to use either? Asking is powerful .
the evidence is clear : – a. Leaders who use a wise balance of asking and telling create a better workplace culture than leaders who are stuck in the habit of telling. Examine the situation: a. This depends upon time available. It is false to believe that telling always saves time and gives quicker better results. Worry or Ponder. c. your knowledge of the person and the situation – it should not be determined by your emotions. Concern or Fear. . Decide Whether to Ask or Tell (based upon above) a. What would will give the best outcome? 3. What needs to be done? b. Determine whether you will be direct or indirect. Identify Your Intention : a. b. by asking effective respectful questions. In a crisis be prepared to be precise and to tell. Is the matter less than a crisis? 2. 4. Great leaders know how to ask respectful effective questions and they get more done than the leaders who insist upon telling. Choose your words carefully. 5. Is there a crisis? (threat to life or property) b.How to Determine Whether to Ask or Tell 1. Would it be better for them to think about and own the doing? c. If a non-crisis. but ask direct questions to understand the full situation as soon as possible b. But or And Remember. Different words have different power and subtle differences in meaning eg. you have the opportunity to get things done as well as develop people and enhance trust. respect and ownership and improve behaviour. Do you wish to enhance trust and respect? d. a.
How do you feel about this plan? 5. 9. Listen carefully to responses or reactions. Ask questions to establish rapport and cooperation. Be absolutely certain of the content of the message 5. 6. Ask open ended questions. . 2. 8. encourage walking as the conversation is conducted . 7. Check that you have their full attention. Always be respectful. E. 3. Ask questions to check that they have clarity.g. Ensure privacy where appropriate. that invite explanation rather than “yes” or “no” answers. Ensure the situation really requires telling. Use a clear confident tone. Your tone should be positive and relaxed. 4. 4. Make sure you are clear about the how what when why where and who of the situation you want addressed. 8.this causes steady breathing and avoids conflict. Always be respectful. Develop a list of questions to practice. 6. Listen carefully to the answers to get their meaning. The 10 Rules of Effective Telling 1. 7. If counselling or correction is intended ensure privacy. Ensure you are emotionally centred and balanced. 3. 10. Ask further questions based on the previous answer to ensure deeper meaning and understanding. 9.The 10 Rules of Effective Asking 1. 2. Develop simple telling formats to practice. If confrontation is likely. 10.
Instead. This question also signals that from your perspective the matter is complete. relax and settle the person such as 'How are things going?" Listen carefully to the answer and give appropriate feedback or ask another question to keep building rapport. The leader then says "I feel what you have said is useful and productive. 4. 3. Reflect for clarity and understanding. how do you feel it's going?" Listen carefully to the answer and give appropriate feedback to keep rapport and give acknowledgment. Is there anything else you feel needs to be said to complete this conversation?" Again the leader listens carefully and respectfully gives feedback or asks clarifying questions. The leader then asks. The walking causes deeper breathing and both parties will open up. This causes both parties to shallow breathe and holds apprehension in place. The leader then asks. keep rapport and give acknowledgment. You can adapt it to work for you. or having to look away to avoid eye contact. "What part of the project or task would you do differently if you had the opportunity?" Listen carefully to this answer as it will normally reveal whether the person is aware or not of what they have done . Listen without distraction.mostly you will discover they already know and will open up. Allow a couple of minutes or so for this to develop. invite the person to "come for a walk with me". The leader then asks a question to build rapport. "What will you commit to regarding your realisation of this situation?" Again the leader listens carefully.make no criticism or judgement. Listen for context and completeness. . Turning to the task at hand. or correct undesirable behaviour without losing trust or respect?" Here is a process to use. Most "correction" is uncomfortable. 2. The Walk and Talk Process A constant challenge facing any leader and manager is 'How do I help some-one improve. but do acknowledge what they realise. thank you very much. the leader then asks "Regarding (name specific task/project or situation surrounding the need for correction). respectfully giving feedback or asking questions to clarify and highlight intended action and acknowledging the person's commitment. The leader then asks. Respectfully feedback or ask respectful questions to pinpoint the specifics of what the person's understanding is . Because they are side by side and not making forced eye contact.The 4 Rules of Effective Listening 1. Allow silence for consideration. both parties are more at ease. done either from behind a desk or standing face to face. "What part of the (situation/task/project) do you feel you have done best at so far?" Listen extremely carefully and give appropriate feedback or ask further respectful questions to gain full understanding. such as 'I understand what you mean".
Leader: The outcome of this task will impact on how you and your fellow course members fare in the program. Do you have any questions? Team Supervisor: Can we assume we can list anything at all that we require for the manifest? Leader: Yes Team Supervisor: What about availability of water? Leader: There is ample water as marked by the wells on your topographical map of the area. The Method Summarised 1. Impress upon your people the importance of what they are to do. Leader: Are there any more questions? Team Supervisor: No Leader: Do you understand the time constraints and the need to work as a team to accomplish each of the elements of the task? Team Supervisor: Yes Leader: Are you clear that you can revert to us if you need clarity in any area? Team Supervisor: Yes Leader: Do you understand the need to treat this task as a serious and realistic test of your team and leadership skills? Team Supervisor: Yes. I look forward to an outstanding result from all of you. You will be required to brief us on your outcomes at the conclusion of the three hours. 2. please commence.The Method for Getting Critical Tasks Done When a leader requires a critical task to be completed we use the method exemplified by this briefing: Leader: Your task is to create a plan to manage the arrival and well being of 1000 survivors of an environmental disaster for the next two years. Are you clear on that point? Team Supervisor: Yes totally clear Leader: Fine. Ensure all necessary preparations have been made. 3. Expect and insist upon success . You have three hours to complete this task. 4. Define precisely the task you want done and the time constraints involved. You are to create a map describing the area you will use and a manifest of equipment required. You are to conduct a reconnaissance of the area to gather knowledge to assist you in your decisions.
Listen carefully to the answer and reflect it back for clarity of understanding – e. and 5. I understand you felt that it took too long and you weren’t happy with the resources available. Ask an open ended question in relation to the object of the coaching – e. “John. That’s great John. tone down on. 2. I hear that you’ll plan in more detail and double check for resources being available.A Warning about the Method Misusing this on tasks that don’t deserve the priority will damage your credibility. and 3. it’s clear to me that you’ve got the right solution. The Structure of a Spontaneous Coaching Session 1. So I can be assured you’ll employ that action next time? 8.g. Exercise calm and centred judgement.. thank you for your time. If the priority isn’t warranted.g. Listen carefully to the answer and reflect you understood it . can I offer coaching regarding this ? 3. Gain commitment that the answer will be implemented next time . Pose another question that allows a considered response – e. .g.4. Never diminish 1. how did you feel about the outcome? 4. In this session you have elicited the answers from the person and they now own it. You have maintained respect and achieved a positive outcome. Signal respectfully that the session is over and thank the person – e. – no matter what the task.g. is that correct? 7.g.g.g. Build rapport with positive appropriate relevant comments and questions .: When you completed the project. So what would you do next time to avoid this happening again? 6.e.g. Seek permission to engage in a conversation – e. how did that task work out for you? 2. Seek agreement that coaching is taking place e.: John.g.e.e. is that the case? 5.
Do you behave the way you expect your senior leaders to behave? 6. who are.Leadership Questions to Ask Yourself 1. What do you think of the proposition that information is best shared on a "need to know" basis? 21. What qualities of these leaders do you value most? 3. What important decision. 13. How do you know that? 10. What do you think of the well known phrase “The team that plays together stays together”? 20. compared to when you are being a leader? 11. Of the following. What would that improvement mean to your organisation? 8. political competence. or have been the three greatest leaders this world has seen? 2. What evidence can you use to support your opinion? . have you been facing and not yet made? 14. in order of their importance to you technical competence. Which leadership qualities do you most need to improve? 7. is an important skill? 17. vision and values driven. values and behaviours? 15. personal survival. How do your current team perceive you as a leader? 9. Do you spend much time deliberately practicing leadership skills? 16. What are the differences in you when you are being a manager. Why do you most value those qualities? 4. Do you consider yourself to be more a manager or more a leader? 12. What personal development do you do undertake in terms of your beliefs. What is the most significant leadership lesson you have ever learned? 18. In your leadership role. In your opinion. which of those qualities do you use? 5. what are the most important for a leader. at work. social competence. What does "success" mean to you? 19. Do you think that flexibility in leadership styles and using them in appropriate circumstances.
What are the two most important components of any relationship within your team/organisation? 40. phone. If you already possess that knowledge. How important are workplace relationships to you? 31. how does that happen? 44. memo’s etc) do you receive per day? 23. Given that these qualities may have been breached by yourself and others. do you believe they can be rebuilt quickly and effectively? 43. fax. Do you. How can that improve? 36. . What impact would improved communication have on your team/organisation? 30. If you already possess that knowledge. encourage those qualities? 41. 35. 32. How can that improve? 33. What can you do to improve that situation? 39.22. Describe your current relationship with your peers. If your answer to Q42 is "No". visits. why haven’t you implemented the changes already? 34. Describe the state of your team's relationship with one another. Why is this the most effective method? 26. How could that communication improve? 29. What can you personally do to improve those qualities? 42. by your own leadership. why is that so? 45. Describe your current relationship with your team. why haven’t you implemented the changes already? 37. How many communications (email. 38. How many communications do you deliver per day? 24. If your answer to Q 42 is "Yes". What is your most frequent method of communication with your team/organisation? 27. In an ideal world. How well does your team normally communicate with you? 28. Outline the core values of your organisation. what is the most effective way for a leader to communicate? 25.
How would you feel about being so successful in your role that you made your position redundant? 65. How can you get your team/organisation to live those values? 49. How readily and openly do your managers above you share information with you? 61. What does transparent leadership mean to you? 52. 59. What could you do personally to make the meetings you attend more effective? 64. what are the main reasons for that? 51. What does the term "triple bottom line" mean to you? 57. What could cause you to compromise your values at work? 53. What additions/deletions or changes would you like to see implemented? 47. what would you like the vision to be? 56. Within your team do you have a plan for training new leaders? 68. Do you believe everybody can learn to be a leader? . 67. Describe what you think are the main great aspects of your organisation. Comment on the quality of that information. Describe what you plan to be doing in the year 2010 in relation to "work". What is your organisation's vision? 54. How readily and openly do you share that information with your peers and team? 62. How would your changes impact upon your team/organisation? 48. Are you consistently open and honest in all your dealings within your organisation? 50. Comment on the quantity and quality of meetings you attend. If you were the sole shareholder of your organisation. Do you receive enough information from all other sources to effectively lead your team? 66. Are you aware of your company's present financial situation? 60. 58. 63. How important is it for everyone in the organisation to understand and agree with the vision? 55. If at any time you are not open and honest at work.46. What percentage of your team would you identify as possessing leadership potential? 69.
What have you done to help your least productive members improve? 75. What does "failure" mean to you? 91. How does a leader view these as opposed to a manager? 71. As a leader. If you know the answer to Q84. If you were competing against your organisation. What is the best way to implement major change in your organisation? 88. What are you currently avoiding in your workplace. What workplace conversations are you avoiding? 82. what assumptions are you making that require checking? 79. What part can you play in that change? . What will it take to for you to fully engage in being your best in the your role as a leader? 80. What one thing could you improve that would give the greatest return on time. Why are you avoiding those conversations? 83. In relation to the issue that troubles or concerns you most at work. What threatens your work performance and well being? 78. What one thing could you do that would make the biggest improvement in your workplace? 77. what weakness/s of your organisation would you exploit? 90. energy and dollars invested? 84. What is the best way to get someone to do something that they currently don't want to do? 87. Do you behave the way you expect your team members to behave? 74. Looking at your most productive team members. what is the reason you keep doing it? 86. What are you currently doing at work that you believe you should not be doing? 85. what’s the urgent advice would you give them? 89. What needs to change most in your organisation? 92. which you know you must address? 73. In your tasks you have set procedures. what is most important to you about the daily tasks of your team or organisation? 72. If you were a consultant to your organisation. what have you done to help them improve? 76. How will you know that you are fully engaged in being your best as a leader? 81.70.
What three things that I do. would you like me to continue? 4. What worthwhile values should we have at work? 2. What opportunities do you feel we could be missing? 15. What in our organisation needs to change most? . How important is it for you to know more about how we run this business? 11. Is there any way that you feel we could save time and costs yet keep or improve the quality of our work? 18. Is there a better way to do this task? 14. What systems need to be created to make things work better? 9. What do you understand our vision and goals to be? 3. What do we do as a team that could improve? 7. What is the one thing that we could do to be more efficient? 19. Is there anything that we do that doesn’t make sense to you? 8. What training do you think we need as a team? 13. What three things that I do. What does our team need to do to make our work more efficient and enjoyable? 16. would you like me to change? 5. What do we do well as a team? 6. What information do you not have that you’d like to have to help you operate more effectively? 12. What resources do you feel we need to do our work better? 10.Leadership Questions to Ask Your Team 1. How well do we cooperate with other parts of the organisation? 20. How do you feel about the way we communicate as a team? 17.
What might be missing that prevents you from being your best at work? 13. What could you do that would help our team to be more efficient and enjoy work more? 4. What commitments are you willing to make to continue great work? . how would you deal with your performance? 15. What do you feel may be preventing you from being your best at work? 8. What would you like to see improve? 3. I’ve seen you do great work before. If you were in my position. How do you feel the team sees you? 11. what would you chose to focus on? 10. If you were given the opportunity to more training. What one thing could you do to make a difference in the way you work? 12. If you could plan your progression at work. what changes you would make to your role? 16. Can you describe how you feel you could make things improve? 17. Regarding (this task/job/project etc). If you were in my position. is there something that I can do to help that continue? 20. what would you do differently if you had the opportunity to do it again? 7. What do you feel is your best way of being a great team member? 19. What area do you feel you might need more training in? 6. If you were given a choice. Is there anything worrying you outside of work that we may be able to assist you with? 9. Is there anything I can do for you to help you enjoy your work more? 5. what would you suggest I do to help you be your best? 14.Leadership Questions to Ask Members Who Need to Improve 1. What is working well for you in our team? 2. what would that look like? 18.
What three things am I doing that you’d like me to change or stop or do differently? 4. What three things am I doing that you’d like me to keep doing? 5. Can you assist me in clarifying something? I understood we had agreed to do (X). I’m just passing this on to you for your better judgement. I’m concerned that I’m not understanding how that fits when (describe the situation) is happening. Can you help me with what happened? 8. Do you think it might be worthwhile having our team members swap roles occasionally to give them a better understanding how we each work? 12. Can you help me with that? 7. That really helped us – many thanks! Is there a way we can reciprocate. I’m concerned that your team member (X) might be doing (Y). that we’re not already doing? . Can we arrange a joint meeting to work out a better way to do (X)? 14. What can I do to help us work more effectively together? 3. You guys did a great job on (X). I understand that is not the procedure/policy/etc. One of my people (X) complained that you pulled him up regarding (Y). What do I need to understand that has changed our agreement? 10. One of our values that I know is important to you is (X). unless of course it is really necessary to deal with it on the spot? 9. Is that OK? 13. I’m concerned about (whatever) and I wonder if there is anything you can suggest that would help? 6. What information would you like from me on a regular basis that I’m not already giving you? 2. I can understand you pulling him up on that and I would like the opportunity to deal with him myself as he is my team member. and it appears that (Y) has happened. What could we do jointly that would really make a difference to the way things work? 11. Is it OK if next time you let me know about it first.Leadership Questions to Ask Your Peers 1.
I’ve got a feeling you might want to talk to me about (X). I understand you are passionate about (X) and I share that value with you. One of our values that I know is important to you is (X). I’m concerned that I’m not understanding how that fits when (describe the situation) is happening. Would (Y) o’clock on (Z) date be OK? . Is it OK if next time you let me know about it first. Can you help me with that? 9. Do you think it might work OK if you were to let me know what was happening and allow me to deal with it and report back to you? 12. What do I need to understand that has changed our agreement? 3. (X) complained that you pulled him up regarding (Y). What three things am I doing that you’d like me to continue? 5.Leadership Questions to Ask Your Senior Leaders 1. what do you think? 8. I’m happy to make time for us to discuss it if you wish. I feel that (Z) would be a workable solution. I can understand you pulling him up on that and I would like the opportunity to deal with him myself as he is my team member. I’d like to run it past you for your thoughts. unless of course it is really necessary to deal with it on the spot? 11. Is there anything you need to have happen that I can help you with? 7. I have an idea that I think could improve (X). and it appears that (Y) has happened. Can you help me with what happened? 10. How do you feel about (X)? I’m concerned that (Y) is happening and that may not strategically/economically work for us. Can I arrange a time with you to discuss it? 13. I’m also concerned that you might be unintentionally undermining my position by dealing with it yourself. Can you assist me in clarifying something? I understood we had agreed to do (X). or do differently? 4. In an ideal world what do you see me doing two years from now? 6. Could you please explain it to me? 2. I’d like to ensure I’m clear about (X). What three things am I doing that you would like me to change/stop.
Will you continue to use our services? 5. Can you rate our work quality out of 10. If you had to replace us. What is your best experience with us? 14. What is the one word that you would use to describe us as an organisation? 13.Leadership Questions to Ask Existing & Past Clients 1. How do you feel about our timeliness? 10. What did we do that you appreciated most? 2. What did we do that you appreciated least? 3. Would you be happy to link our web sites? 20. What are the main aspects you’d like us to change. Can you comment on the effectiveness or otherwise of our communications? 12. stop or do differently? 6. Did you see anything negative when dealing with us? 15. where 10 is perfect? 9. Can you see any opportunity in us forming a strategic alliance? 17. Which of our people stand out for you and why? 16. What one suggestion could you make to us to help us improve? 19. What are the main aspects you’d like us to continue? 7. How do you feel about our transparency in dealing with you? 8. Would you use our services again? 4. Would you be prepared to write us a testimonial on your letterhead? 11. why would that most likely be? 18. Can you see any benefit in having our staff meeting each other to better understand each other’ roles and needs? .
What is the best experience you’ve had from any service provider? 6. Ideally. What level of transparency would you like us to share with each other? 15. What would happen if after we commenced the task we discovered a better way to deliver our service to you that was not foreseeable at the time? 7. Would you prefer to pay for structured results. What form of partnership would you ideally like to have with a supplier in our industry? 14. What core value would make all the difference. How would you feel about allowing some of your staff to work with us first to understand us better? 8. What are the qualities you are seeking from a service provider in our industry? 5. What level of personal communication would you prefer during the conduct of the service? 12. budgets and time adherence. if it were to be present? 16. How would you feel about us investing in the outcomes for your organisation through using our service? 9. what do you see as being the most desirable benefits from using our type of service? 11. What’s the main issue to overcome with a provider from our industry? . Beyond costs. can you describe how you would feel if we exceeded your expectations? 3. What is the most critical issue we need to understand if we are to succeed in winning your business? 10.Leadership Questions to Ask Prospective Clients 1. rather than a flat fee when using a supplier from our industry? 13. What would concern you most about using a service provider from our industry sector? 4. What values do you expect from a service provider in our area of expertise? 2.
and situated in exceptional geographic locations. law-enforcement and commerce. David is also the principal of David Deane-Spread. a coaching training and facilitation service focussed on attitudinal competence. training and facilitation.com David has more than 30 years experience as a leader in the military. and has written numerous articles.daviddeane-spread. . leadership. He authored the acclaimed workbook/system “Master the Power of Your Attitudes” based on his training method. Terry is an experienced and capable business leader and bushman.About David Deane-Spread David co-founded Australian Leadership Journeys with Terry Old.Com. His passion for the outback combined with his commercial and business experience give him a unique blend of common sense and commercial leadership skills. leadership development and strategic facilitation. Terry started his business career with Elders Rural and after holding senior management roles in two international agricultural chemical companies changed his focus to marketing and franchising in international travel. white papers and e-books on topics relating to attitudes. He is an expert in the process of questioning and developed the training method for attitudinal competence. he is a contributing author to the book series “You Lead and They’ll Follow” published by McGraw-Hill. satisfying his dream of creating practical and experiential leadership programs to suit leaders at various stages of their development. About Terry Old The creator of the acclaimed Nannup Valley Resort and No Horizons Australian Safaris. See www.