I recently finished reading a book called, “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change The Way You Lead Forever”. If you are in a leadership position of any type (business, family, friends, etc.), it’s a great read.

The author suggests we add a simple question to our leadership conversations. Really, for any conversation. The question is: And What Else? 

The author, Michael Bungay Stanier says, “With seemingly no effort, [the question] creates more–more wisdom, more insights, more self-awareness, more possibilities–out of thin air.” This is so true.

The AWE Question

When we use the AWE (And What Else?) question, it is a powerful tool in your leadership repertoire. I found it opened up conversations with my clients, my wife, and my friends.

Put yourself in any conversation you’ve had recently, could this question have helped? The answer is, yes!

AWE Creates Options, Options, Options

This simple three-word question opens the door to possibilities that may never have been considered otherwise. When we realize there are more possibilities it creates curiosity. Instead of just A or B, we now have more options to think about.

AWE Fosters Curiosity

We are curious from birth, always exploring. Why do some workplaces make us shut down this curiosity and make binary decisions?

Here’s a challenge for you. The next time you are faced with a binary decision at work or at home, step back and ask yourself, And what else? Could there be another way, a different angle, a third or fourth possibility?

AWE Stops Us From Offering An Answer

One of the best things any leader can do, especially in a one-on-one situation, is to shut up and listen. This question has the power to do that for you. When you ask the AWE question, you have to listen.

We answer questions and offer solutions too quickly. Here’s another challenge for you. In my previous post, I mentioned trying to talk 40% and listen 60%, this question is a great tool to help you get there.

Questions Are Just Smart Leadership

It’s hard to go wrong as a leader when you ask thoughtful questions.

Last week my oldest daughter asked me how to turn the words off on the TV. We use closed captioning when my wife and I watch The Americans because some of their accents are hard to understand.

Annaliese wanted to watch Daniel Tiger without the “words”. Instead of telling her what to do, I helped her get curious. It sounded like this.

  • Me: Press the CC button (she didn’t know that button yet)
  • Her: Okay
  • Me: What do you think you should do now?
  • Her: Press the ok button on “close”?
  • Me: Do you think that will turn off the words?
  • Her: Umm, maybe I should press okay on “Turn off closed capt shun ng”?
  • Me: Give it a try.

She was so proud of herself after this little experience. I made sure to tell her how smart she was for figuring it out.

What if you did this at work with your employees? Instead of just plowing through a problem and offering solutions, give them a chance to think through the problems they bring to you. This is also a great practice for our own thinking patterns.

Slow Down, Ask Questions, & Stay Curious

As a test to your leadership this week, try the AWE question. Try to listen at least 60% and talk 40% in one-to-one conversations. Do an 80:20 mix if you’re brave!

Now I’m curious, I’m always looking for great questions to ask my clients and people I meet. I want to generate curiosity and great conversations. I need your help though.

What are some of your go-to questions to get great conversations going and maintain curiosity? Please share your answers in the comments section below.

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