Viewpoint: Why physician leaders should ask big questions

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John Hagel III, recently retired founder of Silicon Valley-based research facility Center for the Edge, said leaders today need to revisit an overlooked skill: asking questions. 

In an Oct. 5 article for the American Association for Physician Leadership, Mr. Hagel said leaders should ask powerful and inspiring questions rather than act like they have all of the answers. 

"By asking questions as a leader, you also communicate that questioning is important," Mr. Hagel wrote. "You’ll inspire people to identify new opportunities and to ask for help when they need it. These behaviors lead to a culture of learning, which is critical, since the institutions that will thrive in the future are those that encourage everyone to learn faster and more rapidly expand the value that they deliver to their stakeholders."

Mr. Hagel said leaders should ask questions that invite others to explore major new opportunities their organization has not identified yet. Doing so can help sidestep the fear of being seen as weak when asking questions. 

"These broader questions also communicate that you have a sense of ambition, that you want to take the organization way beyond where it is today," Mr. Hagel wrote. "And you can bolster your credibility by providing evidence of those long-term trends that underlie your question."

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