If you have ever watched a crime show involving a police interrogation you’ll be familiar with the idea of leading the witness.
The context might change but the scene is always the same. An interrogator is interviewing a suspected criminal in a dimly lit, windowless room trying to get them to fess up. For some reason there always seems to be a half eaten burger and large coke on the table and everyone looks tired.
The police pepper the suspect relentlessly, asking questions designed to lead the suspect to admit their guilt.
The suspect refuses to answer.
The police ask more questions, this time withholding information they know the answer to.
The suspect lies about it, is called out and the police dramatically throw a manila folder on the table in triumph and shout “A-HA!”
In these situations, the question askers are intentionally trying to lead the other person to an outcome, regardless of what it takes.
This might be an effective tactic for catching criminals but it’s no way to seek to connect and collaborate with your team, other leaders or prospective clients.
Instead, acting with genuine curiosity and providing an opportunity to learn more and connect with the other person is the agenda. How to do this? By following your nose and asking genuine questions.
When leading with curiosity there is no hidden agenda or outcome. Instead, the process of asking questions and holding space is the outcome.