How to Become a More Influential Leader by Asking Questions.
The secret to mastering Influence when leading people is finding the sweet spot. There you can point them towards your preferred action by guiding their thinking. Notice I said, 'guiding their thinking,' not 'telling them what to do.'
The usual scenario…
Here's a scenario for you which I often hear from my clients.
There is a change coming, which is making come team members feel uncomfortable and fearful. When they speak up during team meetings, looking for more information which might help them be more confident in the change, the leader seems to be frustrated. Instead of offering more information, the leader directs them on what to do.
The result is unhappy, unsatisfied people who aren't willing to accept the change and consciously or unconsciously create resistance. Change becomes a long, hard, and upsetting process.
The leader has lost an opportunity to influence the team and get them on side.
What could he or she have done differently?
The leader could have used one of and most underrated techniques for gaining Influence and become a more influential leader. It is the art of the question.
Questions hijack thoughts.
Most people are unaware of the power of questions. It's one of the skills/techniques I teach the most, as it significantly impacts creating high performance in people and business.
Neuroscience has proven that questions trigger a brain impulse known as instinctive elaboration. This is often described as hijacking someone's brain.
Instinctive elaboration is the phenomenon where, when you're asked a question, your brain can't think of anything else but the answer. For example, while you're working, I might ask you, "Where did you buy those fabulous shoes?" What does your brain do? It searches for an answer and, while it does so, it stops thinking about what you've been working on.
So, asking a question can get people thinking about the topic you want them to accept. But there's more…
Questions increase the probability of action.
Research has shown that "Asking people a question about performing a target behaviour influences future performance of that behaviour."
In other words, if we can get people to imagine themselves working in the desired way, they are more likely to go on and do it and become a more influential leader. Sales marketers know this and use it often. An article in Fast Company reports on a study with over 40,000 participants. It found that asking someone if they might buy a new car in the next six months increased purchase rates by 35%.
How leaders can hijack the brain for good reasons.
Questions influence the decision-making process. They prompt the brain to contemplate a behaviour that increases the probability of it being acted on, creating greater accountability.
When you ask somebody a question, it forces their unconscious brain function to contemplate your question. Their brains then create new neural pathways, which help them accept the concept and take ownership.
By asking the right question at the right time, you make people build their own thought patterns and adopt the actions you hoped for. This is what's called "Influence."
Instead of telling people what to do or how to adapt, try asking questions which make them imagine themselves in the new circumstances. Help them see themselves working well. Help their brains build the connections it needs to take them from resistance to "hey, I had a great idea!"
One more point…You don't need to wait for answers. The question is enough to guide people in mentally digesting how they could work with or apply the changes. By asking questions, you are planting seeds which will reshape the thought process and in turn help you become a more influential leader.
This is just one of the techniques you will learn in my program, Mastering Influence, which is based on my years of experience and supported by neuroscience. If you'd like to know how this will help you fulfil your potential, reach out today.
How do you use questions to increase your Influence?
P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 5 ways I can help you intensify your impact, influence and income.
1. Grab a Copy of my Latest Book (available in all good bookstores, and on Audible)
2. FREE Masterclass
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4. Join our Master Influence Program and be a Case Study
If you're ambitious, this is for you - I’m putting together a new leadership case study group… stay in touch for details. If you’d like to work with me to master the art of influence and unleash your most powerful self…Click Here
The ability to influence is the greatest accelerator of impact and performance, and it intensely affects our career, our income and how we lead people. — Find Out More
5. Work with me privately
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Caroline Kennedy, author of Lead Beyond 2030: The Nine Skills You Need to Intensify Your Leadership Impact, is an accomplished, award-winning CEO and global thought leader on business and leadership. She is a highly sought-after mentor and coach to top global executives. A respected keynote speaker and author, Caroline’s methods are neuroscience-based to achieve rapid development and growth.