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Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions By Knowing What To Ask Hardcover – September 8, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"In Leading with Questions, Michael Marquardt maps the future of leadership. ‘The leader of the past was a person who told,’ Peter Drucker once said. ‘The leader of the future will be a person who asks.’ Read this book if you want to see the future."
--Robert Kramer, director, executive education programs, American University

"Through the rich stories of the organizational leaders who lead with questions, Marquardt offers a wonderful tool to enable organizations to creatively transform the status quo and generate a corporate culture that succeeds!"
--Mary Tomasello, vice president, organization development and human resources, Reynolds Food Packaging

"Marquardt presents a questioning technique that works and will enable leaders to grow from being good to being great."
--Lisa M. Toppin, director, human resources, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

"A brilliantly written, indispensable guide to help us each find our unique path through the art of asking questions."
--Debra Gmelin, corporate director, the Leadership Institute, Humana, Inc.

"Our company was recently recognized by Forbes Magazine as the #1 retail company in America. Our approach to leadership--from our CEO to our frontline managers--follows the approach explained in Leading with Questions. This book is a practical guide for anyone--at any leadership level, in any company--to follow to become more effective in leading others."
--Doug Bryant, vice president, organizational development and training, Advance Auto Parts

"I have learned that leadership is not about knowing all the answers. It’s about knowing what great questions to ask, and carefully listening to those answers. This book is a timely piece of management wisdom that shows leaders how to ask great questions--questions that inspire, motivate, and empower the organization."
--Patrick Thng, managing director, Development Bank of Singapore

"This book is a terrific guide and magnificent resource for those who wish to explore the power and benefits of leading with questions!"
--Dan Navarro, Quality Management Office, JPMorgan Chase Vastera

"Marquardt has discovered the way to effectively lead the twenty-first century organization through questions and reflective learning. This book captures the essence of the questioning process and sets a practical basis for the long sought after learning organization!"
--Harry Lenderman, president, The Elk Forge Group; advisor, Sodexho University; author, Breaking the Educational Glass Ceiling

"This book skillfully bridges scholarly theory and down-to-earth common-sense tactics to provide a crystal clear guide to a very powerful leadership technique that changes people and organizations."
--Al D. McCready, chairman and CEO, McCready Manigold Ray & Co., Inc.

"Marquardt has powerfully expressed how to reach the heart of effective leadership. This is a book not just to enhance existing leadership power, but to develop everyone’s latent leadership qualities."
--Francesco Sofo, University of Canberra, Australia; author, Six Myths of Critical Thinking

"Leading with Questions describes a very powerful and practical tool that has taken Constellation Power Generation into the top ranks of energy companies worldwide."
--Frank Andracchi, vice president, Constellation Energy Group

"Successful questioning is one of the most powerful skills for not just leaders, but for all people; and Mike has spent his career both studying the power of questions and asking questions effectively. This book captures the wisdom of his experiences."
--Keith M. Halperin, senior vice president, Personnel Decisions International Real Leadership Advantage

"By focusing on the right questions, Mike Marquardt has peeled back the onion to reveal the true power of questions. This book shows leaders how to give their organizations the cutting edge that makes the difference between a good company and a great company."
--Bea Carson, president, Carson Consulting

"The ideas in Leading with Questions will provide leaders with new perspective on leading in the challenging twenty-first century."
--Lim Peng Soon, president, Learning & Performance Systems

"I have experienced the tools and techniques of Leading with Questions first hand and highly recommend this book to new as well as experienced leaders. It has dramatically changed our leaders as they learn how to embrace Marquardt’s questioning technique."
--Liz Cicco, training and development specialist, Bowne & Co., Inc.

"This is a must-read book! Leading with Questions will change the way you manage in your organization. This book is Marquardt’s latest contribution to improving the way we work and communicate in our increasingly complicated world."
--Howard Schuman, human resources advisor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka

"From the days of Socrates, our ability to ask the right questions has been revered as one of the greatest skills a person should possess when leading others. Marquardt’s latest book is an invaluable ‘how to’ resource for those intent upon finding solutions through reflective questioning."
--Eric Charoux, executive director, DCDM Business School, MAURITIUS

"This book is the ideal guide for the corporate executive who would like to create a winning organization by asking the great questions."
--James Y. Lim, human resource manager, Alstom Corporation

"Leading with Questions provides wonderful illumination on a subject often hidden in the shadows. In this book the genius of the author is his ability to capture the essence of what successful leaders do with questioning and how they can use questions to change their lives and those around them for the better."
--Kenneth L. Murrell, professor of management and MIS, The University of West Florida; author, Empowering Employees

"The ability to frame and ask the right question is a desired skill for everyone in life. Leading with Questions is must read book for those engaged in developing people to their maximum potential."
--Mohammed Effendy Rajab, director, Adult Resources, World Organization of the Scout Movement, World Scout Bureau, Geneva

"Leading with Questions is brilliant and thought provoking. It is a huge wake up call to all leaders that smarter questions are the best recipe for lasting success."
--Alastair Rylatt, author, Winning the Knowledge Game: Smarter Learning for Business Excellence and Navigating the Frenzied World of Work

"Leaders worldwide will be especially well served to master Marquardt’s art of leading with questions!"
--Banu Golesorkhi, director, Research and Development, Pharos International

From the Inside Flap

Leading with Questions

"Change begins with inquiry, and Leading with Questions jump-starts the process with its practical approach for leaders who want to develop and ask questions that provoke reflection, get meaningful information, and initiate action."
—Martin B. Kormanik, president and CEO, O.D. Systems

Do people give you the information you need to perform well? Does everyone in your organization understand your vision for the future? Do you know what your boss is really thinking? In a study from the Center for Creative Leadership it was discovered that the ultimate key to successful leadership was an executive's ability to ask questions and create opportunities for others to ask questions.

In Leading with Questions, internationally acclaimed management consultant Michael Marquardt shows how you can learn to ask the powerful questions that will generate short-term results and long-term learning and success. Throughout the book, he demonstrates how effective leaders use questions to encourage participation and teamwork, foster outside-the-box thinking, empower others, build relationships with customers, solve problems, and much more. Based on interviews with twenty-two successful leaders who "lead with questions," this important book reveals how to determine which questions will lead to solutions in today's complicated business world.

Marquardt reveals the stumbling blocks that can get in the way of effective questioning and outlines a variety of strategies for learning to ask questions that will get results. Step-by-step, he walks you through the process of learning the art of questioning and shows how to use the techniques of active listening and follow-up. In addition, he presents guidelines for using questions in myriad situations with individuals, teams, and organizations.

Leading with Questions is your guide for understanding when, how, why, and where to lead with questions. Questioning leaders from DuPont, Alcoa, Novartis, and Cargill will show by example how to become a great leader who asks great questions.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (September 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787977462
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787977467
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Keith E. Webb VINE VOICE on January 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Asking rather than telling, questions rather than answers, has become the key to leadership excellence and success in the twenty-first century." That, in a nutshell, is the premise of this book. Marquardt who has taught and written extensively on action learning shares the wisdom of leading with questions.

The book is divided into three sections: The Power of Questions; Asking Questions Effectively; and A Guide for Leaders of Using Questions. Throughout the book the author uses quotes from interviews of top business leaders about their use of questions.

The Power of Questions begins with examples of disasters such as the sinking of Titanic, the explosion of the Challenger spacecraft, and the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. All disasters where the cause is attributed to a lack of questioning. Chapter 2 is a stirring recital of the benefits of questions. Questions open up perspectives, new learning, greater team work, create an empowering environment, help people gain a voice, increases listening, innovation, while reducing conflicts. It sounds like a miracle drug! Except that it's true. Questions are at the core of my business and I can attest to their transformational power!

The second part of the book is the strongest. It's the "how to" section on forming questions that will achieve all the benefits mentioned earlier. The author goes beyond simply giving lists of good questions (as some other books on questions do) and teaches you how to actually form a powerful question. Good questions he says are, "those that accomplish their purpose as well as build a positive relationship between the questioner and the questionee." He gives plenty of tips how to do this. He also addresses hinderances such as a judging or blame mentality.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In several of my most recent reviews, I have quoted an observation of Peter Drucker's from an article he wrote for the Harvard Business Review (in 1963) and it seems especially relevant to Michael Marquardt's most recently published book, Leading with Questions: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." This is a common mistake, one that can be avoided if the right questions are always asked. Marquardt himself offers an excellent case in point. Before interviewing twenty-two specific leaders around the world, he formulated these five questions:

"When did you start using questions and why?"

"What are some of the ways you have used questions?"

"What questions have been most effective?"

"What has been the impact of leading through questions on (a) your organization and (b) you as a leader?"

"How has the use of questions changed you as a leader?"

The responses that Marquardt accumulated provide the substance of this book. After completing a rigorous analysis of them, he shares a number of important lessons that will help each reader to master what Marquardt correctly characterizes as "an underused management tool." I presume to add that this "tool" should be used by everyone at all levels and in all areas of operation within any organization, whatever its size or nature may be.

Marquardt carefully organizes his material within three Parts. First, he explains why questions can be so powerful for individuals and organizations. In Part Two, he offers practical guidance on selecting the right questions and then asking them effectively.
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Format: Hardcover
Leading With Questions is an "opener" sort of book. The value in a work of this nature is perhaps in getting a general discussion of question thinking vs. answer thinking off the ground. One might consider it as an introductory text for MBA, communications, or negotiation studies. Marquardt basically sets forth his thesis then ploddingly exapands on the obvious or near obvious while the reader searches for a nugget of insight here and there. Does that make it a superfluous book ? No, because we are culturally so deficient in this mode of thinking that the idea of shifting to question expertise versus the appearance of having all the answers does constitute an important perspective reversal. For some, this may come as a revelation. For others already versed in questioning skills, such as legal professionals or therapists, this will be a needless restatement of well understood techniques.
Marquardt often pads his work by using the same passages of quotation over again at multiple points in the discussion, and he offers no suprising real world scenes of questions in action.
The book generally sounds as if a pile of lecture notes and broadly valid observations taken at some distance from the furnace of real action were cobbled together into a kind of doughy handbook of not such bad ideas.
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The author contends that we must use questions as a way to learn, and we must not fear questions that come to us. If we really seek to make the best possible decisions given time constraints and lack of information, then we must use questions to discern the reality of a key issue. Furthermore, we must ask questions in a non-threatening manner. For those on the receiving end of a question, stop becoming defensive is another key message from the author. There is one aspect of the book that is not correct: don't ask "why" questions as the author promotes. Rather, one should ask for additional information: "help me understand what happened when..., please clarify what is meant by..., etc." When we ask "why" questions, we immediately prompt defensive behaviors. Questions are critical to understanding, and this author provides some valuable tips on asking questions, except for the use of "why" questions.
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