A big responsibility any leader has is to be able to face a room full of people and answer difficult questions. It is not an easy task by any means, but one that must be done in the right way. The manner in which a leader responds to tough questions will go a long way in determining how they are perceived by the people they are leading. Answering questions authentically will make those who are listening to the questions more confident in following the leader. By using inauthentic language or being non-transparent, a leader invites discord and chaos. There are many ways for people in charge to ensure that they have authentic answers to difficult questions.
Understand Why You Are Being Asked the Question
Difficult questions always come from somewhere. When a leader gets one of these questions, it’s important that they take a step back and consider where the query came from. Is the individual asking the question out of fear? Are they asking it because of a rumor that is floating around the workplace? Understanding where a question came from will help any person answer it authentically. It can also show folks that their leadership is compassionate enough to want to see their point of view.
Every leader gets asked a question that they may not be able to answer completely. In that situation, it may be a good tactic to admit that fact and seek answers from those asking questions. It is authentic and genuine to seek out collaboration to solve a problem. Those asking the question may appreciate that their input is being requested. The resulting dialogue may also open up the leader to thinking of answers they hadn’t considered before.
Never Take Anything Personally
There is no doubt that difficult questions can get emotional. Someone who is asking a tough question may be filled with a variety of powerful emotions. Some of this may end up directed at the leader. It is natural that a leader may feel the desire to become defensive. Fight this urge. A leader should be compassionate and provide the answers they can. Leaders should remember that the emotions expressed are not about them.
Be the Right Amount of Transparent
When answering difficult questions, leaders should freely admit that they don’t know the answer if that is the case. It’s important that they also ask follow-up questions to ensure they get the right answer, as well as including a timeline as to when they can get the answer. Also, leaders should be transparent but should refrain from delving too deeply into topics that don’t have a lot of answers attached to them.
Practice Being Specific
In all cases, a leader should be specific. If a leader needs to ask questions themselves to get answers for those who seek them, they should let everyone know who they will talk to in search of those answers and when they plan on getting them. Leadership should always be sure to meet the deadlines they have set, so people know their questions were heard.
Authenticity Leads to Gratitude
It is only natural that people with questions will appreciate authenticity from leaders. Leadership should always commit to a high standard of authenticity so they can ensure that they have a workplace filled with trust and harmony.