When I started out in my career, the key to success was having the right answers. Those who advanced in their careers the quickest were seemingly the ones who had the most answers.

While this is definitely important in some situations—especially when responding to the people you are accountable to—it is not the key to success as a leader. There is something even more important than having the right answers.

If you are going to be a successful leader, you have to get better at asking good questions. You need this skill more than you need more answers. Here are seven tips for asking better questions.

  1. Ask open-ended questions. The other person will be more honest and revealing, when you get better at asking open questions.
  2. Get behind the assumptions. You may have an answer but check to see if it matches theirs
  3. Get both sides of the story. The truth is often somewhere in the middle, isn’t it?
  4. Ask follow-up questions. Play dumb and dig deeper.
  5. Get comfortable with “dead air.” The best answers often come after “the silence”
  6. Help people discover their own insights. That is what the Socratic Method of teaching is all about!
  7. Understand the difference between facts and speculation. It will clarify not just your own thinking but the other person’s as well.

How good are you at asking questions?