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454: How to Ask Better Questions, with David Marquet

By Dave Stachowiak

David Marquet: Leadership is Language David Marquet is the former commander of the U.S.S. Santa Fe, a nuclear-powered attack submarine. Under David’s command, the ship had an impressive turnaround, achieving the highest retention and operational standings in the Navy. David is the author of the bestseller Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders* and has just released his new book, Leadership is Language: The Hidden Power of What You Say and What You Don’t*. In this conversation, David and I explore the seven sins of questioning. David shares the story of the ill-fated El Faro and how we can discover better information in leadership by making the shift from self-affirming to self-educating. Key Points A leading question comes from a place of thinking the person is wrong, or that you have the answer. I hear this a lot from people who think they have the right answer but don’t want to use say so, so they use the Socratic method as a “teaching moment.” It’s annoying and arrogant.   Self-affirming questions are often binary questions with a special motivation: to coerce agreement and make us feel good about the decision we have already made. Seven Ways to Ask Better Questions: Instead of questions stacking, try one and done. Instead of a teaching moment, try and learning moment. Instead of a dirty question, try a clear question. Instead of a binary question, start the question with “what” or “how.” Instead of a “why” question, try “tell me more.” Instead of a self-affirming question, try self-educating questions. Instead of jumping to the future, start with the present, past, then future. Resources Mentioned Leadership is Language: The Hidden Power of What You Say and What You Don’t* by David Marquet Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders* by David Marquet David Marquet’s website Related Episodes Leadership Lessons from Challenger, with Allan McDonald (episode 229) These Coaching Questions Get Results, with Michael Bungay Stanier (episode 237) The Path of Humble Leadership, with Edgar Schein and Peter Schein (episode 363) How to Build Psychological Safety, with Amy Edmondson (episode 404) Discover More Activate your free membership for full access to the entire library of interviews since 2011, searchable by topic.

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