When executives face major career hurdles, it’s only human for them to feel inadequate. As they adapt to disruptions within their company or industry, perhaps the questions that helped them solve challenges of the past no longer help them solve problems of today.
Sometimes the best solution isn’t to come up with answers, but rather, better questions. If they’re to diagnose new conflicts, then they need to analyze the real issues that hold them back.
Executives should ask where their focus needs to lie and how their leadership must change to apply new initiatives.
Here are three ways that executives can manage those challenging times in their careers:
Analyze the Questions that Inform your Usual Decision-Making
Executives should start by analyzing what questions guide their daily decision-making. When they review their thought process, it’s important they pick up on the things that hold them back. Some career coaches, for instance, first start by asking, “What makes your life unhappy?” This exercise helps executives realize how questions can control anyone’s mindset. When questioned, their minds focus on negative perspectives about their lives, even though they may not have been bothered by any particular issue before. But executives should also ask themselves what they’re grateful for or even what they’re excited about within their careers. Then, the focus becomes positive.
The moral of the story is that the questions CEOs and business executives frequently pose to themselves are the ones that they generate the most answers to. When in need of a more positive mental shift, then start analyzing your choices and asking different questions to widen your perspective.
Reframe your Questions
People who face shake-ups in their careers — or even in their personal lives — tend to ask themselves the same questions repeatedly, even when their problems require new solutions. Asking wrong questions only keep us in a state of ignorance and allows leaders to avoid any challenges or confrontations that help them grow. Executives can break old habits that keep their thought processes ineffective, by asking these questions:
- Is your current way of thinking bringing you closer to a solution?
- Would someone else frame the issue differently?
- What is the bigger picture of what your business needs to accomplish?
Create Better Methods to Ask Better Questions
Asking better questions can help anyone find better solutions to their problems. If executives are to help empower themselves, they need to become better questioners. This starts with having better methods in place for them to foster this expertise.
For one, they should continuously learn about their field — and the emerging technologies that drive it — so they can become more agile within today’s evolving digital landscape. Next, they should create an open dialogue with others who are experts in the field. The more conversation they have about processes, the more they’ll be introduced to different modes of thinking and questioning the world around them. Third, they should follow a protocol that allows for only constructive analysis of the issue. Negatively-oriented questions that only seek to diminish the questioner only cause harm and don’t solve the issues at hand.
When hit with a professional rough patch, it’s important to remember these approaches to inspire more thought-provoking and solution-based questions. After all, the best leaders are the ones who are truly inspired and accordingly ask how their business can fit into the world around them. Business leaders who think more fundamentally about what they need to accomplish and how they are going to do it will set them up for future success.