There’s more to asking good questions than phrasing, timing and clarity. The key is leadership that creates an environment where questions of discovery are the good questions, and top leaders are not the only ones who get to ask them. When questions are showmanship, leaders make sure that everyone who might have something important to say silences themselves before they make themselves vulnerable. Not healthy for followers, not healthy for organizations.
Bill Barnett says it well: “In organizations where questions are meant to show off, it is not safe to ask questions in order to learn. After all, by trying to learn, you reveal your lack of knowledge and admit to not being the smartest person in the room. As the zingers fly, who would risk raising a hand to admit ignorance? Instead we clam up and pretend. Like the illiterate who fakes it undetected through school, we expend more effort trying to conceal our ignorance than we do trying to learn. We become a self-silenced fool.”
From Bill Barnett, “On Strategy:How to Create Self-Silenced Fools”