Asking questions from a place of curiosity is a powerful way to lower anxiety and to bring greater thoughtfulness to a situation. In fact, neuroscience research tells us that it is next to impossible to be both curious and anxious at the same time! That said, asking questions alone is not enough. We’ve all been at the receiving end of interrogation, which is all about asking questions, but not from an open, curious stance. Inquiry, on the other hand, means “to inquire from a place of openness” and requires a willingness on our part to be influenced by what we hear.
Leaders who act as step-down transformers understand this distinction and work to practice skillful inquiry rather than interrogation.
Here are some practices that can help you develop the step-down transformer muscle in your leadership presence.
- Be quick to observe, listen and be curious rather than react.
- Use playfulness to lessen tension in self and others and don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Ask questions to gain better perspective, deeper awareness and to build common understanding. Try to reframe issues.
- Invite the group to step back and see the bigger picture of how they may be contribution to things, by posing the question, “What’s our role in this?”
- Focus conversations on facts rather than assumptions, judgements, and gossip.
- Bring clarity to the rational system by communicating and regularly clarify roles, goals and priorities.
How to Be
“Stay Calm, Stay Connected, Stay the Course.”