You just woke up to an epiphany! The problem has been solved! Pulling out the notebook you keep at the side of the bed, you write down exactly what you are going to do in the morning to resolve this lingering issue that has plagued your group.
How does this happen? Cognitive scientists refer to this as “pattern recognition”. Where our brain is in a relaxed state allowing all the messages in our mind to connect. I won’t get into the science of this, it’s referred to as neuroplasticity if you want to look it up.
Now you are asking, how does this connect with leadership? Let’s first determine what stimulates these connections during these relaxed state. Remember also that these states can happen at night while we are dreaming, on a long-walk, during a retreat, your morning shower, or anywhere where we allow ourselves to shut down and stop thinking.
There are a few ways to stimulate these connections, but in this article we will speak to the one where leadership plays a part. And that is; asking questions. You can trigger your brain to start thinking about a complex situation before you climb into bed. Your intrinsic system will gear up and go to work while you rest. Psychologists have stated that creativity improves in REM sleep, because your intrinsic system can go to work without your extrinsic system getting in the way.
“Good Leaders ask Great Questions” … this is the heading of my paragraph, but also a book by John Maxwell. Leaders don’t know all the answers, they know where to ask questions to get those answers. Good leaders can inspire your creativity by asking those complex questions, but not demanding immediate answers. If you are an engaged follower, you will continue to ask yourself those questions in search of the solutions.
Great questions need to be asked in order for companies to have great futures. We aren’t talking about how to land that Jones account, we want to ask questions about exponential growth. Challenge our minds to determine how to leapfrog the competition. Focus our energy and questions on improving employee engagement. University of Michigan former football coach and icon, Bo Schembechler, asked himself every night … “What can I do tomorrow, that will help me beat Ohio State?”. He asked himself and his team that same question 365 days a year, not just the week leading up to “the game”.
What are you doing to stimulate your creativity? I challenge you to write out your main questions each night on a pad of paper. After it’s written out, put them down and go to sleep. Turn off all the other stimulation, and do not focus on the problem at hand. Assume that the paper you wrote that problem out on is where that problem belongs.
If you want to be a good leader, learn to ask these challenging questions to your team. You won’t demand immediate answers, let those big questions sit on their minds. Allow them time to dream. Ask them daily, not just three days before a big meeting. These are the questions that will propel your organizations forward.
Looking for the answers to the right questions? Take this advice as well. What questions should you be asking yourself and your team? Try writing it down on your nightstand notebook. Maybe you’ll just wake up with some answers! If you are struggling with this, or determining what questions to ask your team, let us help. As executive coaches, we are trained and certified by the John Maxwell Group on asking questions, That is what coaching is, and that is what leadership does ..
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Mike Kole is a certified coach, speaker, and trainer from the John Maxwell and Zig Ziglar Organizations.