People ask us for help all of the time – maybe you’re a therapist helping a patient, or a manager dealing with a coworker, or a teacher aiding a student.
When put in these types of positions, your goal is to get to the root of what another person needs from you and to address that problem as clearly and effectively as possible.
To get to the root of what someone needs from you, you need to know how to ask the right questions. The right question can often cut through any distractions or muddiness and bring you to the core of a situation or problem.
The key to any good leadership (or any type of communication) isn’t to give elongated speeches filled with wondrous advice and insights, but to instead ask “mind-dissecting” questions that help you uncover exactly what it is someone needs from you and how you can provide that.
Throughout this article, I will share these 7 simple questions mentioned in the book and why they can be so effective no matter what type of leader you are. In fact, these aren’t just good questions for becoming a better coach, they are actually good questions to improve any type of conversation that is centered around fixing a problem.
“As humans, we are designed to find solutions and answers to any given problem or challenge. When we’re feeling stuck, it’s often because we’ve inadvertently boxed ourselves into a problem rather than tapping our creative muscle to unlock any problem that stands in our way.”
For centuries Sudanese women have been pushing the boundaries of
the patriarchal society, excelling in fields almost always dominated by
men despite the difficulties they face.
We searched for the women making an impact today both nationally and
internationally, in all different fields: health, environment, women’s
rights, arts, filmmaking, political and social activism, engineering,
literature and even traditional dance, and came up with over 45 names
but had to cut down to 30 for the sake of the reader’s sanity. This
list, in no particular order, is just the start.
Photo: Muna Isam Eldin Osman – Architecture: a prominent
name in a field that was heavily male dominated and is still highly
politicized. She headed the powerful Dar Consultancy Firm’s design
section for several years before moving back to teaching at the
University of Khartoum where she was the first woman in the college’s
history to be accepted based solely on practical experience and
accomplishments. She was the first architect to introduce the curtain
wall system in Sudan, and has since designed and supervised the
construction of major landmark buildings, and now manages her own
Widad Yagoub Ibrahim – Engineering/micro-financing: a civil engineer and the founder of the petroleum and housing development company ‘Bee’.
Established in 1986 with just 3 employees, the company now employs over
800 people with both national and international offices. She also
established the first bank for micro-financing in 2008 which has funded
over 14,000 families and has 24 branches in different states, and has
built several schools for elementary and vocational training in conflict
areas. In 2006 she was the first woman to be invited to join the
executive committee of the Business Men’s Union, upon which the name was
changed to the Business Owners’ Union.
Salma Almagidi – Sports: the first woman to officially coach a men’s football team in
Africa and the Arab World after obtaining her professional coaching
license from the Confederation of African Football. Despite her young
age (only 25!), she managed to lead her team Alnasr through 3
consecutive wins thereby saving it from dropping into the 4th category.
Asma I. El Sony – Health/scientific research: a leading
specialist in TB nationally and internationally. She headed the
National Tuberculosis Program Sudan Federal Ministry of Health for
several years during which major progress in fighting TB was made, then
founded The Epidemiological Laboratory,
an institute which works in TB control and research, including working
to make health services for TB more accessible to poor people (including
those affected by the HIV pandemic). She holds several leading
positions in organizations, has co-authored 4 books and has over 25 solo
and 30 shared publications.
Kamala Ishaq Ibrahim – Art: the first modern woman
painter in Sudan. She is a pioneer in Sudanese and African contemporary
art and painting who contributed to creation of the Crystal movement that challenged the art establishment in Sudan and sought to challenge the dominating masculine vision of art in the country.
Course speaker and Mythodrama founder Richard Olivier on Shakespeare and what leadership lessons can be learnt from his work:
Shakespeare is a wonderful gift. He just had it, and the result of that genius is enduringly relevant and rich case studies about leaders and their followers. The treatment of Othello, or Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew, may be outdated in terms of societal changes but the human dynamics underneath the plays are eternal. Henry V is an inspirational leader; Julius Caesar concerns the themes of power, politics and influence; Macbeth explores the dangers of derailing behaviour; The Tempest seeks to understand the dynamics of change; and As You Like It enables positive change culture.
We asked actor, tutor and course speaker Yolanda Vazquez about what participants can expect to learn from the day:
The workshop is aimed at anyone who is leading or thinking of leading big projects as well as those who are interested in what it is that underlines the strategies or tactics of successful leadership. We use the story of Henry V as a case study. The participants will be able to place themselves as the protagonist of the story in order to experience the challenges that Henry faces and the strategies he uses to deal with them. Through this, and the exercises we provide, the participants will gain insights into what it means to inspire, motivate and build trust and well as other elements of inspirational leadership.
We watch rockets ascend on a streak of fire to the sky, awed and amazed. The rush of excitement and the sense of adventures ills our mind. We wonder what it would be like to ride that explosive fire to the heavens. We watched astronauts work in space, spinning around on the International Space Station in zero gravity. We’ve brought the world together, albeit briefly, as humans landed and walked on the moon.
We see the end result of a collaboration of dreamers and visionaries. The teams of engineers, designers, and support all make it work. Their work hidden from view and behind the scenes. Remember the people who make everything work. They may not be on the TV or the star attraction, but they all make it happen. Always thank the team, and recognize their work and importance. No role is too large or small. Encourage them to think big and to dream. Celebrate their vision, for they may lead the way to the stars.
INTJ: Goddamn these people are all fuck ups. *Deep sigh* With regret I must tell you all that you are fucking up, and I’m going to take care of things now. INTJ: *Becomes Dictator* INTJ: Fuck I have a group project, okay you fuck ups, this is how its going down so I only have to see you all once. INTJ: Who ever invented Googledocs is my new lover. INTJ: What are you doing? INTJ: THAT IS NOT EFFICIENT HERE LET ME SHOW YOU INTJ: Frankly, I think you’re a moron. INTJ: Actually nope, I’m not going to…goddamnit okay this is how you’re going to do it. INTJ: Don’t bother me….why am I answering your questions. INTJ: I just really wanted to sit in my room today and think…but…okay fine… INTJ: This is the last time I ever get involved with a project…. INTJ: No, I don’t know what you’re talking about, I’m not highly qualified for this at all, I mean look at me…I’m pretty basic…goddamnit. INTJ: I don’t know anything about that subject… INTJ: This is why I stopped caring about people in the first place. INTJ: Sigh…okay…only this once though.