The Power of Question Asking
By Mary Ann Marzano

Asking the right questions in the right way changes the whole dynamics of your relationship with others and can affect how they respond to responsibility. Instead of telling someone what to do, or how to solve a problem, question them about it and guide them threw the process of coming up with their own way of handling the situation. This empowers them, makes them think, removes dependence on the leader, and they own the solution so they are more likely to want to make it work.

As a leader, we are in the business of developing other leaders and what better way then to involve others in the creative process of solving problems or setting guidelines for projects. Let’s say a problem arises during a crucial time in finishing a project. You could walk in and tell everyone what to do and problem solved but what have you done to develop leaders. Now imagine walking in and asking; “What do you think we should do?” now you have everyone thinking and taking ownership. It even works well in a scenario when, say, a person can’t get tasks done on time. Instead a berating them start the question asking, when they nail down the problem ask them what they think they can do about it. In this way you are getting all the information, getting their buy-in for responsibility, empowering them, and creating an atmosphere for authenticity because you are honoring them and value their opinion. Now if this does not work out then maybe this person in not leadership material and needs to be told what to do.

There are many kinds of questions for different kinds of situations. You want to make sure you don’t ask questions that have the solution in them. This is called a solution-oriented question, If you take a way the first word it becomes a statement. Example: Could you find that information on the Internet? Instead ask; Where could you find that information?
Also be careful of questions that start with “why” because they can put people on the defensive.
A closed question can be answered with a yes or a no. An open question gives you more information because it can’t be answered with a yes or a no.

Question asking is an important tool in life and needs to be practiced. Being aware of the power of the right kind of questions will enhance your leadership skills and improve your relationship with others by honoring their opinion.


1. Jesus taught by asking questions. What is one of your favorite and why?

2. How can you improve on the following questions?

A. Do you think we can get the project done on time if we start ½ hour earlier all week?
B. Why are you always late on your deadlines?
C. Did the call to the client go well?

3. Describe a situation where question asking would be better than telling.