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Leading with Questions

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Leading with Questions

How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask


15 min read
8 take-aways
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What's inside?

Learn to ask the right questions and listen to the answers you receive.

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What common mistake beset corporations – such as Enron, WorldCom, Lehman Brothers and Arthur Andersen – that disgraced themselves and collapsed? Their greatest failing, argues management expert Michael Marquardt, was having leaders who were so incurious they seldom questioned anything, including their employees’ actions. Marquardt teaches the importance of asking questions of – and listening to questions and answers from – the people you lead, and he explains how to do so effectively. He adds worthwhile commentary from CEOs and other leaders on the value of curiosity, inquiry and dialogue.


The Titanic might not have sunk if the right people had asked the right questions.

On April 14, 1912, the Titanic ocean liner sank in the North Atlantic. The Titanic’s owners and the international press had promoted the ship as the world’s most unsinkable luxury liner. The sparkling new vessel was on its maiden voyage. What did the Titanic’s engineers and builders miss, forget about or fail to question as they planned, designed and built the giant ship?


History indicates that some of the Titanic’s planners and designers did worry about the ship and its ability to sail safely. However, despite their concerns, none of them raised any issues with their colleagues. They didn’t want to question anything about the high-profile ship for fear of looking foolish. The fact that the other professionals connected with the Titanic were content to move ahead with the construction and outfitting of the vessel inhibited concerned insiders from voicing their opinions.

When the Titanic set out to sea, it received numerous telegraphed...

About the Author

Michael Marquardt, program director of the Executive Leadership Program at George Washington University, ​​​​​is also professor of human resource development and international affairs, and president of the World Institute for Action Learning.

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