Some of the most inspiring and transformative moments have been born out of someone asking the hard questions, and as a result giving the person on the other side the chance to respond in a way that has the power to change the situation itself.
George Negus has asked the hard question time and time again throughout the course of his prestigious journalism career, and the result has been profoundly important. Through other peoples stories of hardship, hope, leadership, success and failure we discover a small piece of ourselves – often poignantly anchored to the quest for truth and courage. You may not always like the answer you get, but here are my top 3 reasons for making sure you push yourself to ask the hard question and often as you can.
1. You can generate powerful change. Asking the hard questions can be uncomfortable, that’s why it is hard. But, as the saying would have it nothing that is worth fighting for is easy. This could be something as small as directly asking a member of your team why a project failed or as complex as questioning the fundamental pillars of why you are in business. The situation is not as important as the outcome – by asking why when everyone else is asking what, you put yourself in a position to get closer to the root cause of a situation and then find a powerful solution.
2. You can define your leadership style. If you want those around you to challenge the status quo with a mind to generating change and innovation, you have to be willing to lead. Learning how to successfully inject hard questions in amongst those that smooth the surface is incredibly important for building successful professional and personal relationships built on trust and truth. Voltaire famously said: Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.
3. You can keep people accountable. If we aren’t willing to ask the hard questions of ourselves and others than we risk ending up in a situation where mediocrity and complacency rule at the sacrifice of innovation and strength. Accountability is different to leading through fear (link to fear blog), and makes for a very important distinction. Asking the hard questions that highlight strengths and sometimes weaknesses in processes, outcomes or people is imperative to lasting success because it drives a sense of awareness and accountability that can in the end deliver a significantly greater outcome for everyone involved.
What do you think: Is it important to ask the hard questions for greater good?
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