Tag Archives: Lois Frankel

Extract More Value from Meetings with Effective Questions

Shane Snow

Shane Snow

Shane Snow, co-founder of Contently.com  advocates asking incisive questions to extract more value from meetings, mentors’ guidance, and chance encounters with thought leaders and influencers.

He notes that expert journalists, researchers, innovators, and therapists are trained to ask effective questions, and their common “best practices” include:

  • Listening more than talking
  • Asking open-ended questions to avoid suggesting responses: “Who?”, “What?”, “When?”, “Where?”, “How?”, “Why?”
    They use closed-ended questions sparingly: “Is?”, “Would?” and “Do?”
  • Posing one concise question at a time.
    They avoid multiple choice questions
  • Waiting for an answer without interjecting more questions or comments.
    They rarely interrupt themselves or others
  • Tolerating the other person’s silence for several seconds before talking
  • Directly, repeatedly probing for insightful, revealing replies
  • Nodding only when the response is intelligible, logical, and understandable
  • Interjecting questions or rephrasing the original question to redirect tangential responses
  • Cross-checking information and following up possible inconsistencies with more probing questions
Sakichi Toyoda

Sakichi Toyoda

Nearly a century earlier, Sakichi Toyoda, founder of Toyota Industries introduced an iterative problem-solving approach based on posing “Five Whys” to uncover the root cause of an issue.

The Lean StartupThis technique is now-widely applied in Lean Manufacturing, and is advocated by Eric Reis in The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses .

‘”Five Whys” were reduced to “Three Whys” to uncover customer objections in sales situations, and was modified Judith Beck in cognitive therapy to identify underlying Core Beliefs that lead to negative automatic thoughts.

Judith Beck

Judith Beck

Beck softens the “Five Whys” by repeatedly asking “If that were true, what would it mean?”
Her model that suggest connections among:

Early experience->Core beliefs (schemas) ->Underlying assumptions (if/then – conditional) ->Automatic thoughts-> Physical Experiences->Self-Limiting Behaviors

Five Whys to Uncover Core Beliefs

Lois Frankel

Lois Frankel

Therapist and writer Lois Frankel illustrated the similarity of effective questions in psychotherapy sessions with those used to spur inquiry and innovative breakthroughs.
She advises interviewers and consultants to:

  • Use questions to define your purpose:
    What do you want to gain from this conversation?

    • Help
    • Advice
    • Information
    • Commitment
    • New ideas
    • Clarification of opinions or attitudes
    • Decision
      Overcoming your strengths
    • What is the “real” problem? Engineers and business people answer this question using a “Root Cause Analysis”
      • What are the options?
      • What are the likely consequences?
      • What results will justify the invested time, effort or money?
      • Ask specific questions:
        • What could we do differently?
        • Why is this important?
        • How can we best meet our objective?
        • What do you want to happen?
          • What don’t you want to happen?
          • What is the best thing that could happen?
          • What is the worst thing that could happen?
          • How will you react if you don’t follow this course of action?

Frankel advises to

  • Maintain eye contact:
  • Focus full attention on the interviewee
  • Repeat and summarize important points to verify accurate understanding
  • Listen for:
  • Content (facts)
  • Intent (feelings)
  • The way these are expressed (process).
    Warren Berger

    Warren Berger

    Journalist Warren Berger applied refined questioning in Design Thinking processes to produce innovative solutions in Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your World .

    He advocates continued exploration of meaningful “big” questions in his blog, A More Beautiful Question.

-*What effective questioning practices have you found most helpful in achieving business results?

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Leadership Qualities that Lead to the Corner Office?

Adam Bryant

Adam Bryant

Adam Bryant, deputy national editor at the New York Times interviewed more than 200 CEOs of top companies for his column, and distilled the leadership qualities that moved them to The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed :

  • Passionate curiosity, deep engagement with questioning mind and a balance of analytical and creative competencies
  • Confidence based on facing adversity, knowing capabilities
  • Collaboration, ability to “read” and shape team dynamics
  • Ability to translate complex to simple explanations
  • Fearlessness in acting on considered risks  The Corner Office

These five characteristics augment qualities that might be considered “table stakes” – or “must-haves” for any leadership candidate:

  • Preparation
  • Patience
  • Navigating organizational obstacles  
  • Building a team of diverse members by galvanizing with a clear mission and spending time with members

Bryant argues that these behavioral competencies may be developed through attentive effort, but he acknowledges that some people have greater natural predisposition and aptitude for these “ways of being.”

Lois Frankel

Lois Frankel

Lois Frankel’s earlier book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers provided different recommendations for women seeking leadership roles, later empirically validated in research studies:

  • Act like a mature woman rather than a “girl”
  • Frame statements as assertions rather than questions
  • State and initiate a course of action, rather than waiting to request permissionNice Girls Dont Get The Corner

In contrast, Bryant particularly advises women to “meet as many people as possible and build relationships because serendipity and chance encounters can lead to unplanned opportunities.”

Research organizations like Catalyst and Center for Talent Innovation conduct social science research to investigate these behavioral and attitudinal recommendations.

CatalystBoth groups have questioned the applicability of mainstream recommendations in leadership development curricula when implemented by women, minorities and “people of color.”

Their continuing research agendas include analyzing the behavioral components of general recommendations such as “demonstrate gravitas” which the majority of top executives affirmed as “… critical for leadership. I can’t define it but I know if when I see it.”Center for Talent Innovation

These research organizations seek to more clearly define what these key executives see in critical leadership attributes like “gravitas” and to define them in replicable behavior terms.

-*Which leadership behaviors do you consider most important for any executive?
-*Which behavioral competencies are most crucial for aspiring women leaders?

Related posts:

Twitter:   @kathrynwelds
Blog: Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary 
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LinkedIn Open Group Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)
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©Kathryn Welds