Michael Marquardt & Bob Tiede – The Art of the Great Question

“A leader who leads with questions can be so much more effective. They’re hearing more ideas and now they’re empowering and involving their staff in the solution.” -Bob Tiede

Tommy Thomas: [00:00:00] My guests today are Michael Marquardt and Bob Tiede. Michael is Professor Emeritus of Human and Organizational Learning at George Washington University, and the author of 27 books on the topics of leadership, global teams, and action learning. Bob Tiede is the CEO of leadingwithquestions.com, a blog followed by people in more than 190 countries.

Tommy Thomas: He also serves on the U.S. leadership development team for Cru and is the author of five books, including Great Leaders Ask Questions. Some of our listeners will remember Bob from earlier episodes when we discussed leader development within Cru. Gentlemen, welcome to NextGen Nonprofit Leadership.

Bob Tiede: Happy to be with you, Tommy.

Tommy Thomas: Talking to the two of you today reminds me of an early experience with Nathan DiGesare, a musician and a videographer in Nashville.  Nathan has recorded probably 200 videos for my company, so I’ve been in his house and his studio on countless occasions, but early in the relationship, we were doing some voiceovers at his house.  We finished the work, and I noticed this Steinway Grand Piano sitting in the corner.

So, I strolled over and sat down and did my best rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water. And then I think I segued into Last Date by Floyd Kramer. Little did I know that Nathan had been trained at Indiana University and was a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music. And I’m not sure if I’d have known that if I’d have been so audacious to sit at his grand piano and play those songs.

So, talking with you guys, yeah, I feel like here I am asking the questions and you two are the master of the great questions. So, this is going to be fun.

Bob Tiede: We’re looking forward to it.

Tommy Thomas:  How did the two of you get to know each other and begin collaborating?

Michael Marquardt: Bob, I think you can tell that story.

Bob Tiede: I will. In 2006, my wife loves to go to bookstores. She goes all over the bookstore. She knows when she’s done, she’ll find me still in the leadership section. And what I usually do is try to find two, or three books I’ve never seen before, find a chair, sit down, and peruse them to see if I’m going to buy one of them.

In 2006, I found this book, the first edition of Leading with Questions by Dr. Michael Marquardt. Perusing only a few pages, I said, this one’s going home and it was a page-turner. I had no idea. I love books. I eat books for breakfast. Probably every leadership book I’ve ever read there’s been a morsel in there. I had no idea that this would change my leadership forever. Actually, set me on a new path. I was already on the U.S. leadership development team for Cru. I began to teach out of it. The response was just amazing. Fast forward, to 2012, I start a blog and I’m thinking when I start the blog, I don’t want to do just another leadership blog.

I want to because there are so many good ones, I’d be a small fish in a big ocean. So I asked the question, was there a niche of leadership I could blog on? And as soon as I had that question, it was like, Oh, it’d be something with this leading with questions. So I go to WordPress. I’ve never blogged before and WordPress guides you through. The first thing they ask is what do you want the blog to be called.

In other words, let’s search and see if the URL is available. On a lark and I smiled as I did it, I typed in the title of the book, leading with questions, thinking that certainly the author or publisher may have tied it up already, but it was available. And at the cheapest price, like 29 a year, so I grab it.

I’m saying I had a little queasy feeling wondering this guy, this author, Dr. Michael Marquardt, how would he feel when he finds out there’s a blog by the same title of his book? So, I decided I’d blog for several months, and get some content. Then I crafted, I thought a very diplomatic email to Dr. Michael Marquardt, sharing that his book had changed my leadership, thanking him for writing it, sharing that I’d start this blog, and might I have his permission to excerpt from his book, we’d include a link to Amazon for purchase, and I sent it off wondering. How will he respond? And within 24 hours, I had the most gracious response giving me carte blanche permission.

Several years later, Dr. Marquardt was doing the second edition and wrote me, asking if I’d do an endorsement and if he could list leadingwithquestions.com as a recommended resource. It’s yes! And probably a year after that, we were taking a group to D.C. I reached out to Dr. Michael Marquardt ahead of time, asking if he might be in town, and if would he be willing to speak.

And if he would, I’d buy the second edition for everyone. And then I invited him, could he come an hour early to sign the books? And I did that rather selfishly because It would give me an hour with him and during that time I’m calling him Dr. Marquardt. He quickly says, Bob, it’s Mike. Just call me Mike and I said, okay Mike, and we’ve been friends ever since and about two years ago Bob calls and says, Bob, it’s time for a third edition.

Would you be willing to co-author it with me? And I said, oh my goodness. Of course. But Mike, you have a PhD, and you teach at George Washington University. I have a Bachelor’s and Mike said, but Bob, your blog has now been out there for 10 years. We need about 30 percent new content in a new edition.

And you’ve already done the research. Summer of 2022, we worked together for about six weeks. Mike is brilliant. He knew what from the second edition he wanted to delete. There are 10 chapters in the book. I would share with him 10 times as much content as he would need. So, he would have a bunch of things he could pick and choose.

But Mike did the heavy lifting. He knew what he wanted to delete. He knew where he wanted to add. And this has been such a gift for me to be the co-author and I’m so grateful to Mike for the opportunity.

Tommy Thomas: Mike, what’d you think when you got that first email?

Michael Marquardt: I was happy that that someone was interested in adding a blog to the whole history of getting people to use questions and so I was delighted with that, and we’ve had a great relationship for many years, and as Bob indicated, with all of his blogs with hundreds of people who are leaders around the world, and getting them to talk about what kind of questions they asked, I thought was just, would be just a tremendous addition to the third edition to have all these new people, and so I’m very pleased that the third edition is out.

Bob’s a co-author, and we have probably another 15 or 20 leaders with their questions that were not in the first two editions of the book.

7:10:00 Tommy Thomas: Mike, how did you discover this Art of the Great Question? Is there a story there?

Michael Marquardt: There’s a story. I became a professor at George Washington University.

In 1994, I had worked globally as a consultant in areas of leadership and organizational change, and team building, and in 1994 I became a professor at George Washington University in their executive doctoral program, so we trained leaders from all over the world, and as a professor, a new professor, you are asked to identify what’s the research area of interest for you in which you begin publishing and writing and work with doctoral students.

And my interest was leadership. Great leaders. That was my focus. Who are the great leaders around the world? What makes them great leaders? And over the first several years as a professor, I wrote a number of books and articles on great leaders. And the one thing I discovered is that all great leaders ask great questions.

And they became great leaders by asking great questions. Whether these were people I interviewed, hundreds of people all over the world in my various research efforts I go into an organization, a great organization that was considered one of the tops in its field. And I said, who are the leaders in this company?

And they would identify, two or three individuals and what makes them such good leaders, whether they’re hierarchical leaders, CEO, or people within the organization. And inevitably, it always came down to, they ask great questions. And so that kind of moved my area of research to more focus on the qualities of great leaders and particularly the questions they ask.

And so over the past 15, almost close to 20 years that’s been my area of keen interest and research. And I do a lot of work in a field called action learning and the primary, right. The element of action learning in a way it solves problems is using questions, but questions is the way that leadership is developed in a way of becoming great leaders.  And so, I feel very fortunate that became my area of research as a professor and I met Bob Tiede along the way.

Tommy Thomas: Litigators, journalists, and doctors are all taught to ask questions as part of their training. Why is it that business executives aren’t taught that? I’ll leave, I’ll throw it to both of y’all.

Michael Marquardt:   Yeah. I think, lawyers are taught to ask questions, but they never ask a question that they already do not know the answer to. So they are open and great questions. Those are, they’re always leading questions. A lawyer is taking a task if he ever asks a question for which he does not know the answer that’s poor lawyer, lawyerly.

Doctors are not trained to ask questions. They’re very poor at asking questions. Although it’s a very important part of their work to do a prognosis and to ask for information about the patient. But many of them are very uncomfortable in asking questions, or they ask the wrong questions, or in an ineffective way, or a discomforting way, etc.

So, I agree that medical doctors could greatly benefit from getting a course and asking questions, but my wife happens to be a medical doctor, and I do not recall that she took any course on how to ask questions. I don’t know of any physician or school that does that. But I think you bring up not only lawyers and doctors, but we realize now that every person in life has to ask questions.

Every parent, the better questions parents ask, the better parents they are. The better questions social workers ask, the better social workers they are. The better questions that interviewers or newscasters. So all of life is your status in life your quality and being a leader in that profession is dependent upon the questions.

And we know that the great newscaster Walter Cronkite in the past, they were great at asking questions, not only the words they used, but the comfort, but they all listened carefully too. And because great questions come from listening. Your premise is that doctors and lawyers are important for them to ask questions, but I think what Bob and I have discovered is that every person in every sector, and every profession will be better if they ask questions.

Bob Tiede: Whenever I speak, and I’m privileged to speak many times and love it.

But I always start my talk with a confession. I get up and say, I need to start with a confession. And my confession is that for most of my career, I was a benevolent dictator. Because I thought the job of a leader was to tell staff what to do. The job of a leader was to give direction. And I did not have that paradigm out of evil intent.

It was just, that’s what I thought the job of a leader was. I did say benevolent. I grew up in a home where I was taught to say please and thank you. So Tommy, if you’d been on my team, I don’t think I ever would have said, Tommy, go do this. It’d been more like, Hey, Tommy, this week we’re working on this.

It’d really be great if you could please do this. And when you did it, I would have said, thank you, Tommy, at a staff meeting, Tommy, stand up. You all need to hear what Tommy did. It wasn’t until I found that first edition of Mike’s book, the first edition of leading with questions and reading that. And it is filled with stories just like the third edition of leaders, literally from around the globe.

And they’re using and as I read that first edition, I had only one question. Why hasn’t anyone ever shared this paradigm with me before? It immediately made sense. I immediately saw that a leader who leads with questions would be so much more effective. When I’m speaking, another illustration I use is I have a picture of a big canoe with room for 15 participants and they all have oars.

And I asked someone in the audience I said, you’re the leader of this group. And as you can see, there are oars for everyone on your team. And you want to get that canoe across the lake as quickly as possible. How many would you like to have row with you? Of course, the answer is all of them. And I say, now, I know that’s a silly question, but I’m going somewhere.

And I go to the next slide, and there’s a picture of the same team, but now they’re gathered around a conference table, and there’s an opportunity on the table. And I say, now, listen to this question carefully. If you’re a leader like I used to be, who thinks your job is to figure out how to take advantage of the opportunity and then you’ll tell them what to do?

How many mental oars are in the water trying to figure out how to take advantage of the opportunity? The answer is one. Only yours. But a leader who leads with questions, who leans forward, perhaps, makes eye contact with the whole team and then says, hey gang, here’s this opportunity. What do you all think we might do?

Now, how many mental oars might be in the water? Maybe all of them. And I ask whoever I’m interacting with, what are the chances that you might hear an idea better than anything you were thinking? And they always say hi, yeah, it’s not a guarantee, but hearing all those ideas, it’s highly probable.

And I say, imagine across the table, it’s Sarah. And she shares a brilliant idea, and you’re thinking, wow, that’s so much better than anything I was thinking. And so you say, Sarah, love your idea. Sarah, would you be willing to lead our team in executing that? And then I say, now, how hard will Sarah work?

A leader who leads with questions can be so much more effective. They’re hearing more ideas and now they’re empowering and involving their staff in the solution.

It’s hard. Whose idea is she executing? Her own. That’s just some of the reasons that a leader who leads with questions can be so much more effective. They’re hearing more ideas and now they’re empowering and involving their staff in the solution. So when it comes to executing, they’re executing something that they participated in creating, it works.

15:17 Tommy Thomas: Let’s get up to a hundred thousand or so feet and ask the big question, what makes a great question?

Michael Marquardt: There’s no single right answer. I think a great question is usually not the very first question that’s asked. A great question usually emerges if you’re in reflection or interaction with other people.

And you ask the best question you can at that point, and then there’s conversation, dialogue, and based upon what you hear, you ask another question. Many of us go through life never experiencing a great question, but if we use the ability to really trust and care about what other people are thinking and saying, ask them questions, and build upon what they say and what you’ve heard.

I think it’s possible to quite normally or regularly have great questions in a problem-setting situation or environment. But great questions generally are those that stretch people. They get you outside the box. They get you looking at things from a different perspective. And that’s why all the time, great questions emerge in a group with diverse thinkers.

You have an engineer and a marketing person and a religious minister or whatever. Have a great question merged in that group than if they are all engineers or they’re all marketing people. So, you can conditions environments in a group setting as well as within yourself that they can emerge.

And so, we’ve all had great questions in our life and they’ve changed our lives, but they’ve been very infrequent because we don’t get asked as many great questions as are available or should be asked in our lives. Bob, you may have some other thoughts.

Bob Tiede: I agree with everything Mike has shared. Something that I’ve discovered is that some of the best questions are so simple and whenever I’m speaking again, I ask who here would like to learn to lead with questions in 30 seconds.

Every hand goes up. And, of course, I say the reason I’m asking this is I sense from my audience is they’d like to learn to lead with questions, but so many times they imagine they’ll have to get a master’s degree in questionology. It’s a nice idea, it’d be nice to be a brain surgeon, and make that kind of money.

But, there are no courses for brain surgeons in 30 seconds. So, every hand goes up, I invite somebody from the audience to come up and when they come up, I say, I think I selected, John here because he has a photographic memory and whoever I brought up always shakes their head like I don’t.

And I say all you have to do is memorize my four favorite questions. And I’ve got a second hand on my watch and I say, here we go. My first favorite question is, what do you think? Second, what else? Third, what else? Fourth, what else? And I say, do you have them memorized? They always do. I say, share them with us.

And they always successfully do it. And then I say, now, some of you look a little skeptical. Like you can’t ask somebody, what do you think? What else? What else? What else? And I say not in that rapid fashion. But first of all, you’re going to add a topic to what do you think? What do you think we ought to do about? There’s going to be some topic.

And when you ask, they’re going to answer. Now I used to look at this like I asked a question, and they answered, that’s complete. What I discovered is that people, when they’re asked to give opinions and input, they instinctively roll out a safe answer. Their first answer, they’re testing the waters. Now [00:19:00] they’re doing this instinctively.

But just to see how it’s treated. So, Tommy, if I asked you, hey, what do you think about it? And you give me that first answer. I said Tommy, that’s stupid. Everyone knows that you’re sorry you answered. But when I say, wow, Tommy, that’s good. Say more. What else? You relax and you’ll give me more and then again, instead of moving on, when you pause, I’m likely to grab a pen and say, Tommy, I’ve got to take notes.

This is pure gold. Please say more. What else? And what I’ve discovered is actually on the third and fourth question that I get to their gold nugget, their very best thought. And I realized we’ve all heard the story of the proverbial gold miner, the guy who mined for gold all his life, looking for the gold vein, never found it, finally quits.

Somebody came along later and discovered the old miner was within six inches of the gold vein when he quit.  Now, that’s probably just a proverbial story, but I share, if you only ask people, what do you think? Get their first answer and move on. You’re a bit like that gold miner. You got close, but it’s what else is down there. And I’m not disagreeing with Mike at all. I’m saying another angle on asking a great question is the what else is where you hear more and discover that they’ve got some incredible things. You just had to help them dig a little to uncover some of those answers that you would not have gotten to if you only said, Hey, what do you think about. Get their first answer and then move on to just another technique to get their brilliance. 

Michael Marquardt: I teach people how to ask questions. I have an activity in which they work in pairs, and you ask seven questions. You’re allowed seven questions. I give them the first question.

What are you most proud of? And then based on your response, you get six more questions. And I tell the people the question. I said you have the opportunity to change the other person’s life. In seven questions, in maybe seven to ten minutes, you can change the other person’s life, because if you listen carefully to each question, the response to each of your questions, by the seventh question, you’re going to have a question that will cause that other person to see something they never saw before or understand something they’d never considered before.

So, they put very high expectations, and they’re amazed how, gee, here’s something I never knew. And in 10 minutes, we’re the best of friends because great questions always build friendships. This person understood something or made a decision or an understanding that never considered before.  Wow!  I love that.

Tommy Thomas: Anybody who listens to my podcast with much regularity, they would as some have gently pointed out that the biggest weakness I have is the lack of follow-up questions. So this is convicting at too many levels, but I guess it’s good to be convicted by two aces.

I will be more deliberate about that. Changing gears for a minute. Earlier in the week, I was talking with Matt Randerson, the Vice President of Growth and Operations at Barna organization. And we’re doing a podcast on generational influences on the nonprofit sector. And so, I guess the question I have is.

Have you observed any differences in the kind of questions you might ask the generations or how you would frame a question between a baby boomer and a Gen X or a millennial?

Michael Marquardt:   I have not. No, if you do, I’ve not noticed it. Of course, ask someone a question, a generation Z responds differently than a millennial or whatever age group, they are. And so, the first question may get a different response, but I think deep down, uh, a great question will have a positive, significant impact on any age person.

Bob Tiede:  I totally agree that, as Mike said, the answers, and their response may be different. But what I’ve discovered is that all people, regardless of their age, love to be listened to. And another thing I’ve shared from time to time is that when you meet a new person if you do 80 percent of the talking, they most likely will mistrust you.

But if you meet a new person and you let them do 80 percent of the talking. Almost always they will leave that time trusting you and you can think, how is this, we instinctively think if I can only tell them all the great things about myself, they will love me. But when you monopolize the conversation, they tend to think, who is this person?

But when you inquire and ask them questions where they do the talking and you’re listening, they feel affirmed. There’s a quote I love and that is that being listened to and being loved are so close to each other that for the average person, they cannot distinguish the difference. And it’s not that they analyze it, but when somebody is listened to it feels good to them.

It’s wow, I like this person who’s showing interest. And I think that goes across all generations.

24:51 Tommy Thomas: I know both of you guys work a lot with teams in his book, How You Play the Game, the 12 Leadership Principles of Dean Smith. David Chadwick, one of his players who played on the Final Four team said the concept of team may be Coach Smith’s greatest contribution to basketball, leadership, and society.  So y’all work with teams. How has the concept of a team impacted your life?

Michael Marquardt: I think, organizations cannot succeed without teams, successful teams that work together. And unfortunately, most teams are dysfunctional. They’re frustrating. People prefer not to be in that group. When they’re in the group, they’re looking at their phone, or they’re cutting off people, or not listening, and so forth.

And if they do participate, they participate to the extent that they can try to control what the group does. I know best what the problem is, and I know best what the strategy is. Most people who work in groups or teams, spend their energy trying to convince other people through statements and expertise and power that this is the problem.

This is a strategy. This is what we should do. Great teams do just the opposite. Members of great teams do just the opposite. So, when I’m a member of a great team, I spend my energy trying to find out what you think. So, Tommy, what do you think? We should do this problem, or what are your experiences?

Where should we be looking? What resources do you recommend? So, I spend my energy asking questions of other members of the group to give their perspectives. We tend, we hear what we ask for, and we reject or filter what we don’t ask for. And so what do other members of the group do to me? If I’ve asked them questions, they say, Mike, what do you think?

And so great teams are composed of individuals who spend their energy asking questions of other people. And that’s a team. If you would stop worrying or wondering, did I recommend this? Or am I, do I have the power? You come up with something that no one, it’s a team. And so great teams spend their time asking questions rather than making statements.

Bob Tiede: I don’t know what I could add to that. That is that is so well stated. They’re not adding to it but one of the things I talk about the teams can do is question storming. We hear about brainstorming, but there’s question-storming. And in one way to do question storming that’s unique is you state here’s the opportunity.

Here’s the problem. And I need everyone on the team to write down five questions that we should answer in order to know what to do about this. And the reason you have everybody write it down is generally on a team, you have your verbal processors who are the first to jump in, and then you sometimes have your more quiet people.

Okay. It’s already been said. I don’t think I’ll add to it. And you don’t get input from them, but by having everybody write down their five questions, you get everybody involved. And then maybe you tell them ahead of time, as soon as everybody has their five, we’re going to post them up here. And now the team gets up, looks at all the questions and you can.

Put five check marks, five votes by the questions you think are most important to answer. And then once you’ve identified those, the leader says, okay, here’s the first one. Who here will take responsibility to go find the answer to this? And the second one, the third one, but it’s a way of creating a questioning culture that the way to find the best way forward is to ask questions.

And then question storming is an activity, but having everybody write it to begin with is a way to involve some of your staff that might be quieter, who hesitate to give input after the verbal processors have jumped in and shared their thoughts.

29:17 Tommy Thomas: Good work. So, I want to close out with a little lightning round.

I’ve tried to glean some questions from some of my favorite podcasters. And I listened to Alan Alda’s podcast Clear and Vivid a lot. And one of his questions is if you’re sitting beside a total stranger at a dinner party. How would you start a meaningful conversation?

Michael Marquardt: As I indicated earlier, a great question to ask anyone is what are you most proud of? What is some great success you’ve had in life? To give people an opportunity, because that question will reveal many things about the stranger or the partner, because it shows what their values are, what they’re proud of.

It makes them feel good to talk about that. It may take a little while to reflect, but that’s usually a great question does take some reflection. You don’t, it’s a great question. Don’t respond right away. It’s probably not a great question. It’s almost a closed question. So, I have found that if I have the courage to do that and great questioners have courage, and that’s why a lot of us don’t ask questions.

We no longer have, we don’t have confidence in ourselves, or we’re afraid of asking a tough question or a great question, so that’s. That’s one I might use. Bob, you might have a few others.

Bob Tiede: Oh that’s a brilliant one. I call these kind of questions platinum questions. And we all ask a lot of questions because we don’t know the answer and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Which way to Walmart here? They know, and I need to know. And nothing wrong with that question, but a platinum question is a question that as they answer, they enjoy answering. It’s not a gotcha question. [00:31:00] And they say, I’ve never thought about this before. And they enjoy answering.

And one of my platinum questions I love to ask is, what would you say are the three to four events that have most shaped who you are today? And then, listening. And I’m sure there’s more that in that category and another one, I’d love to hear just your story. And again, listening uh, it’s important when you ask these kinds of questions.

To follow with what I call the gift of silence. This isn’t, when you ask this question they’re not likely to begin talking at three seconds. And research shows the average person only waits three seconds after they ask a question for an answer. And if the other person doesn’t answer, they just move on.

But when you ask one of these questions, like Mike’s question, keep comfortable eyesight, but give them time to think because it’s likely going to take them 10, maybe [00:32:00] even 15 seconds before they start speaking, but then you’re going to be the beneficiary of a great story.

Tommy Thomas: If you could meet any historical figure and ask them one question, who would it be and what would you ask?

Michael Marquardt: I’ll answer that one first.

I thought Bob would say Jesus. If you could have the opportunity of asking Jesus a question, that would be wonderful. I think any of the great religious leaders would be wonderful to ask questions and certainly some political leaders, some scientific leaders. Someone like Elon Musk.

I wouldn’t mind asking him a couple of questions right now. He’s done some amazing things over the last few years so it would depend upon the person, and the type of question I’d ask, because I obviously would ask Jesus a very different question than I would ask Elon Musk or, President Macron from France, or whatever the case may be.

But depending on where they’re from, that’s, because I try to say this person has some unique perspective or background, and I don’t want to ask him a question that someone else could answer as well or better even what’s unique about this person. If I ask that question, I’ll get information I could get from nobody else.

Bob Tiede: Yeah, that’s not thinking that deeply. One of the questions I love to ask any leader that I meet is what are your favorite questions to ask and, learn from them in that way.

Michael Marquardt: The question I often have is, have you ever been asked a great question?

And if so, what was it and why was it a great question? And that again, we all have been asked great questions in our life and it changed their life. Those are great questions, but we don’t recall those questions immediately, or sometimes you have to wait an hour a day. And that was like, I should have answered Tommy that way, but I didn’t think of that.

And I remember when my father asked me or my second-grade teacher or, someone along the line, but all of us have been asked great questions in our life. We don’t maybe remember the question that was asked at the time, but it changed our career or changed our values, what we do, but what changed our lives was a question, not some person saying your dad or something, do this or that.

Generally, all of us changed our lives significantly when we were asked a great question. Oftentimes when I signed my, signed our book, I say, may your life be filled with great questions. Because that’s the greatest gift anyone could give to someone else is to ask that person a great question. So if your life has been filled with great questions, you have had a great life, no doubt about it.

Bob Tiede: Mike’s, what he just shared there reminds me of something. One of my books, I did an author, it says compiled by Bob, is 339 Questions Jesus Asked. I was sure that it was Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John who wrote those, I just compiled them. The thought was, Jesus wanted to see lives changed. But he knew, of course, he knew, he was God.

But he knew that it would be far more powerful instead of saying, Tommy, let me tell you. Tommy, let me ask you. That then causes you to think. And you answered, he knew that your answer to his question had a greater chance of changing you than if him saying, let me tell you. And as I was hearing Mike there, just, share, it’s yeah, asking, it’s questions we’ve been asked that change us.

Because as we were asked those questions, we focused on something that perhaps we, no other way would have focused or thought about, but then we answered, and we then thought it was our idea. And in some ways it was, but it was prompted by that question.

Tommy Thomas: Last question. What do you understand about your life today that you didn’t understand a year ago?

Bob Tiede: Tommy, you do ask great questions.

Michael Marquardt: I’m trying to think how my life has changed over the past year. And I’m retired. So, it doesn’t change as much as others. But, my wife and I had a great trip to Norway a few months ago, and so I think the beauty of Norway and so it’s raised a question.

So I’m much more aware of and ask questions about nature and beauty and it happened to be a knitting cruise under the midnight sun was that and so I think that’s maybe been one area that I have more questions about and am more appreciative of, and I spend being retired, I spend a couple hours every afternoon on our lake by our house and just enjoy the geese and the river and the water and so forth.

Bob Tiede:   As I’m reflecting on it again, through Mike’s gift to me, inviting me to be the co-author of the third edition, it was released in April. And it has, again, multiplied my opportunities to speak. It’s a credential that has been a complete gift. Wiley Publishing publishes premier business books.

I think if I knocked on the door all by myself, I might not have gotten in or even been considered, but because Mike had the relationship and they had already said yes, they would love the third edition. I rode along in the back of the car and got to this destination. But that’s probably been just a used change to have another credential that is so well known in the business community and the privilege because of Mike of being a co-author of a Wiley-published book.

Michael Marquardt: May I just share one more thing. I know we’re ending it. A lot of people say I’m not able to ask good questions. I don’t know how to ask great questions. I always say that we’re all blessed at birth to ask great questions, all children from the moment they’re born.

They subconsciously ask great questions that enable them to walk and talk within a couple of years because great questions cause change. And then they, [00:39:00] when they start articulating, start asking questions, the adults around them, discourage them from asking questions. I’m too busy Johnny, or that’s a stupid question or whatever.

Michael Marquardt: From age three to some people for the rest of their lives until they die, they never get comfortable and confident asking questions because of what their parents and teachers have done to discourage questions because it’s the joy of every child, every three-year-old child. They love to ask questions.

They all ask great questions. And then, and so what we try to do and Bob and I are both grandfathers and we consider our most important job in life is to undo the damage that our children do to our grandchildren, because our children do the same thing we did, to encourage questions.

So when we see our grandchildren, we say Grandpa loves questions. You can ask Grandpa any question you want. Because the most important thing I can do for my grandchildren [00:40:00] is to keep that spirit, that love of asking questions alive. When they go into four and five and go into the elementary school.

Bob Tiede: As Mike has shared that thought, it reminds me of one of my granddaughters, Claire, when she was two, I discovered a  new way to connect with her.

I would say, Claire, can I ask you a tough question? And that would draw her and she’d come sit on my lap and again, they were not tough questions, but they were fun questions. And then I’d say, now, Claire, it’s your turn to ask Grandpa a tough question. And she would ask me questions and they were like, copycats sitting on a fence.

If there are five copycats and one jumped off, how many are still there? And she would use that one over and over, but we would laugh. She is now a sophomore in high school. She is known by her teachers as the one who asks tough questions. They see her hand, okay. And she’s not trying to get you a question, but they realized, wow, that is a powerful question.

And she hopes now to become an attorney, but just something where, again, as Mike said, from little, we encouraged Claire to ask tough questions and affirmed her for asking questions. And I’m proud of all my grandkids for asking tough questions. Mike said, encouraging them to do some research showed that the average five-year-old asks almost 300 questions a day. The average college graduate only asks about 20. And it’s a sad thing about our educational system that teachers will say to that five-year-old, Johnny, it’s my job to ask the question. It’s your job to answer. And so, they begin to realize school is about answering questions, not about asking.

And where we could develop a skill that would change their lives forever by empowering them to ask questions. 

Tommy Thomas: You guys must’ve been looking at my notes because I had one of the questions that I did not ask was if it’s true, if it’s true that leaders are better when they lead with questions, why is it that so few do so I think y’all have I think y’all have given a full a full response to that question. Thanks so much for being a guest today and I will include links to your books in the show notes and encourage people. Mike’s book changed Bob’s life. Take a look at these books and if you’re alone, in the leadership journey I think you’ll be greatly blessed.

So, thanks to everyone for listening today. Thanks, Bob and Mike for being my guests.

“And one of my platinum questions is, ‘What would you say are the three to four events that have most shaped who you are today?’  I ask the question and then I listen.” -Bob Tiede


Links and Resources

JobfitMatters Website

Next Gen Nonprofit Leadership with Tommy Thomas

The Perfect Search – What every board needs to know about hiring their next CEO

Michael Marquardt

Leading with Questions: How Leaders Discover Powerful Answers by Knowing What and How to Ask by Michael J Marquardt & Bob Tiede

Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask by Michael J. Marquardt

Now That’s a Great Question by Bob Tiede


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