Not too long ago Janina W., Vice President at a large brokerage firm, shared with me how the whole WFH (Working From Home) rut was expanding feelings of isolation, disengagement and disconnect, to the extent that she was beginning to doubt her own expertise and leadership abilities, despite her decades of experience.

I’ve been hearing this a lot lately, as we continue to navigate the nebulous waves of uncertainty. 

What happens when we let thoughts of self-doubt and self-deprecation overshadow our actual expertise, experience and leadership abilities?  We end up feeling so disempowered that we restrain our communication or stop ourselves from reaching out to others. That’s when the real disconnect happens and everyone loses.

There is, however, something simple you can do to snap yourself out of this vicious circle, and that’s to ask questions.

By questions I mean, firstly, getting curious about your own mindset and beliefs, and secondly, about the questions you could ask others to foster engagement and leverage your leadership presence. 

So, let’s take a look at a few of these. 

Questions to check your beliefs and shift your mindset: 

  1. “Am I really that alone? Is there really no one I can reach out to and share this with?”- Chances are that’s not the case and that someone would appreciate/benefit from your connecting. 
  2. “Am I really that incompetent?”- If you are where you are today, it’s because you have the expertise and experience for the position. Always remember that. 
  3. “Do I really have nothing to say?” Consider the loss to your team/organization/clients if you don’t communicate. What’s the opportunity cost? Think of what you can contribute to empower others. 

Asking yourself these questions is the first step in creating greater self-awareness.

Questions to cast your attention forward and connect with others:

  1. “I get the sense this project is stalling – what can I do to help?
  2. “I’ve prepared some notes on this meeting – can I share them with you?”
  3. “I’d really appreciate your feedback – would you spare 20 minutes of your time”?

If there’s one way to convince people you are accessible and involved, it’s by reaching out.

Questions to influence and leverage your leadership presence in meetings and discussions:

  1. “This is great. Can I make a suggestion?….”
  2. “That’s an interesting point – can I add to that?”
  3. “What if we looked at it from a different perspective? What if we did things differently?”

If you want to come across as a leader in meetings and discussions, make a point of raising your voice and speaking up.  Keep your eyes on the big picture. 

These are a few questions that will hopefully provide a good starting point. 

When, during our coaching sessions, Janina was able to get curious and reflect on some of these, she was able to uncover some really profound insights about her leadership style. Once she felt she could fully embrace that authentic leadership style, she felt empowered to communicate her ideas unapologetically with her teams and colleagues/bosses. The result was greater connection and enrichment on all levels. 

You have to start somewhere!  Questions are powerful as they shift your attention towards something greater than yourself and galvanize that forward-moving process. 

So, next time you start to feel disempowered, get curious and ask a question or two with confidence and courage, and see where it takes you!

To ask the right question is already half the solution of a problem.”  – C.G. Jung