If your aim is to be a high-quality, effective leader, ask your questions early. Be genuinely curious. Gather information. Listen to understand perspectives and positions. Empathize with different experiences. Learn what you don’t know.
And then, use what you’ve learned from others and their realities to offer solutions.
Waiting until after a solution is offered before asking your question(s) that potentially derails the solution is either a passive-aggressive strategy or an indication that your leadership promise is limited.
As Richards and Engle state in the 1986 classic, “Transforming Leadership,” leadership “is about articulating visions, embodying values, and creating the environment within which things can be accomplished.”
We can neither articulate the visions nor embody the values that will resonate with others without, first, asking thoughtful, authentic questions and learning from the responses. But, just as importantly, we also can not ensure that “things are accomplished” without offering pathways forward.
Substantive progress with our teammates, our donors, our administrative colleagues, etc., is made not because we have all the answers. But rather, because we ask thoughtful questions, and then, use what we have learned to inform our proposed solutions.