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Someone once said that when you become the CEO that’s the last day you hear the truth. Yet, the CEO (and everyone else) relies on truthful information to move successfully toward the organization’s goals.
Jim Collins, author of the best-selling business book, Good to Great, writes, “Leadership is about vision – but it is equally important to create a climate where truth is heard and brutal facts are confronted.”
As for today’s credit union leaders, they are faced with the unique challenge of discovering ways to keep pace or gain on their larger financial institution counterparts. One place to start is within the credit union’s communication channels, where integrity is the key to the organization’s success. Collins’ book suggests that there are four best practices leaders should master to create an environment where truth can be heard:
After reviewing these practices, how good are your questions? You cannot allow for debate, conduct autopsies without blame, and put “red flag” mechanisms in place without mastering the “art of effective questioning.” Good questioning techniques lead to innovation, better problem solving, organizational bench strength, employee development, better company performance, happier employees – and the list goes on.
Good questions are the building blocks for the highest levels of critical thinking. One might think that the “art of questioning” is learned from the cradle. Research has shown us this is not true. In fact, the quality of our thinking is revealed in the quality of our questions.
For example, Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains, published in 1956, is still considered very relevant today. Bloom’s model for the Cognitive Domain (intellectual capability, i.e. knowledge or “think”) is expressed as a hierarchy of categories representing specific intellectual functions. To develop each of these intellectual capabilities, there are specific questions that the leader and participant can use.
As a leader, you want your staff to utilize their best thinking. Therefore, it is important for you and your credit union’s managers to master best questioning techniques. Starting with the lowest level, the six Cognitive levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy are defined as:
You cannot achieve “innovation” in your credit union unless you or your employees are asking questions at a level 5 or above. To use these levels of questioning to increase the success and richness of your meetings, please click to this link.
If you were to attend meetings at most companies today, questions generally come from categories 1 and 2. If you’re interested in assessing the level of questions in your meetings, click to this diagnostic that you can use in each meeting to see where the level of questioning resides.
After a thorough diagnosis, you’ll begin to notice more interesting meetings, with dialogs around levels 4, 5, and 6. Your credit union will be more productive and efficient — a result of having effective leadership that is truly knowledgeable about where the organization is in terms of achieving goals.
Once you, as a leader, become more comfortable asking questions, it is easier to engage in dialog and debate, conduct “productive” autopsies, and build red flag mechanisms – and ultimately become a Good to Great credit union.
For more information about how to improve meeting dialogs for results, please visit http://www.connectionsonline.net/, or contact Jim Cardwell, email@example.com or Karla Norwood, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can reach a representative by calling 800.395.1410.
January 23, 2006
7/26/2012 04:09 PM
Loved the article. Actully, there are few articles on your site that I've read and didn't find at least level 5 interest.
very detailed - good to use info! Too rare in these types of articles/topics! thanks!
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