Envisioning the future and imagining its exciting possibilities is a key leader role.
In The Leadership Challenge, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner discuss several envisioning imperatives for leaders who are looking forward and contemplating what might be. One of those, “reflecting on the past,” might seem counterintuitive and can easily be overlooked. However, research shows that leaders who look backward while imagining future opportunities often find more meaningful outcomes.[i] This can benefit both organizations and individuals alike.
Teachers are likely familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy and its structured approach to asking questions in order to help students learn by remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating. However, rarely does one find a college syllabus or corporate training outline focused on teaching leaders how to ask questions to improve results.
Thankfully, this does not mean that sufficient literature is lacking, and a review of several informative pieces indicates that leaders can study, practice and learn to ask questions in meaningful ways to achieve better individual, organizational and strategic results.
The author of a recent Inc. Magazine article suggested that the ‘command and control’ leadership style found in hierarchical businesses and organizations like the military is dead.[i]
Replacing it, the author argued, must be a more flexible, agile leadership style that provides employee empowerment and autonomy in decision making. Today’s businesses will survive only by fostering an environment where employees can speak their minds to their superiors while conflict and disagreement are encouraged, so the best solutions rise to the top.