A key part of good leadership is to ask questions of your team in order to learn their ideas, any concerns they may have, and to help them feel you truly care about their work and value their opinions. However, asking questions the wrong way can backfire and leave your staff feeling stupid and worthless. When asking questions, make sure you:

  1. Don’t just make statements, ask real questions, and be genuinely interested in what your staff have to say.
  2. Don’t ask rhetorical questions, such as “You honestly don’t believe that will fix the problem do you?” Questions like these will just make staff feel stupid and won’t help them feel comfortable enough to open up to you. They’ll stop sharing the ideas and the info you need to lead well. A rhetorical question is one to which you could simply add “you moron” to the end of or one to which you know the answer before asking.
  3. To change a rhetorical question to a good one, first share your opinion with your team and the logic behind your thoughts. Once you’ve done that, ask a question that will give you the information you need about the situation. Remember to be curious and show you really care about employees’ answers.

- With information from the Harvard Business Review’s Oct. 29, 2013 “The Management Tip”