Highly Effective Leadership Questions: Open-Ended vs. Closed-Ended

Leaders ask many questions. Yet, do you ask highly effective leadership questions? The types of questions you ask have many outcomes. They impact whether employees see you as a leader or as a dictator. They affect what employees believe are your expectations of them and how they work. And of course, the questions you ask impact the results. So take a moment and assess whether the questions you ask employees are highly effective leadership questions? The following guide will help you.

Highly Effective Leadership Questions: Image consists of pieces of a plain beige crossword puzzle.

Highly Effective Leadership Questions: Open-Ended vs. Closed-Ended. Image via DesignersPics.com

Image via DesignersPics.com

Highly Effective Leadership Questions

The critical point to ask yourself is whether you are asking mostly open-ended questions or mostly closed-ended questions. Open-ended questions solicit thinking and explanation (who, what, when, how, where, why). Closed-ended solicit a yes or no answer. (Example: Have you, will you, are you etc…)

Open-ended questions tell your employees you value and rely on their input on how to proceed. This is part of leading morale. Everyone wants to know they matter, have a purpose there, and can make a difference. Engaging their ideas is one way of letting them know this. Moreover, open-ended questions are highly effective leadership questions because the answers give you and other teammates information you may need and do not have.

So, why do so many leaders (and managers) resort to asking far more closed-ended questions than open-ended?

    Why You Like Closed-Ended Questions

  1. You are fast-paced and closed-ended questions and answers make you feel like you’re saving time. You aren’t. There will be mistakes to correct from lack of information. Also, you will create morale problems which take time to fix.

  2. Your mind is like a flow-chart and you like confirmation of yes/no along the way. Ask the open-ended questions to gather information and closed-ended to get the confirmations you need.

  3. You have a strong need for control and closed-ended questions fulfill that need. Well, think of it this way — if you try to control daily details you will not lead the big picture well. That means you won’t really have control!

  4. Insecurity Is Undermining You

  5. Trusting others is not your strong suit. It’s time to work on your ability to trust your employees. Without that, you won’t be a leader. Leaders must be willing to share credit and willing to take the blame. Communicate clearly and discuss issues and you will learn to trust your employees.

  6. Fall Back to Old Habits

  7. You believe in asking open-ended questions but you slip back into an old-habit of using closed-ended ones. There are many ways to overcome old habits from posting a daily reminder for yourself to asking employees to keep you honest on your commitment. From this they can also learn to ask more open-ended questions too.

An Image for Highly Effective Leadership Questions

Picture jigsaw puzzle pieces. They can represent any effort you and your teams undertake. How does the puzzle get put together? Are you directing every move and asking closed-ended questions? I doubt it. It would be wholly ineffective. The puzzle pieces have many open edges so — ask open-ended questions to be a highly effective leader. Lastly remember, it’s “open-ended questions to learn and closed-ended to confirm!”

I welcome your thoughts, comments, and questions in the comment section below.

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Post:
Revive Team Commitment With These Five Leadership Questions

©2023 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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