My six-year old doesn't talk to me. Rather, he questions me. From the time he wakes up (Why do I have to go to school?) to the time he goes to bed (Do I have to go to school tomorrow?), each day involves an ongoing series of questions.
The start of a new year is a time when I hear leaders and leadership teams asking a lot of questions as well:
"What is our sales goal this year?"
"How many people will we need to hire?"
"When will we complete this project?"
With these types of questions, teams work towards a solution using past experiences. We'll sell more than last year. Hire more than last year. Phase 3 will be completed after Phase 2.
The great thing about a new year - despite the start of this new year feeling more of an extension of last year - is that it is a time to evoke new thoughts and new ideas. Asking "what if" can help team members share what could be possible versus what has been done in the past.
Compare the "what if" questions below with those above:
"What if we double sales this year?"
"What if we got more done with the same people?"
"What if we slowed down on the project?"
"What if" questions can bring up emotions - many of which may not be the warm and fuzzy emotions but the uncomfortable and scary ones. However, asking the question can help your team find new answers.
The leadership challenges of this new year aren't going to be answered by more of the same. But rather on challenging yourself and your team members on what can be.