Can I ask you relevant questions? …the heart of a philosopher

Leadership is a skill

Years ago, I discovered that asking appropriate questions opens one’s mind to deep exploration. The more utilitarian questions you ask, the more you know. Asking apropos or seemly questions is one of the undisputable ways of learning. I grew up in an environment where I was taught to ask questions bothering my mind. This is the same principle I have inculcated in my children and any well-meaning fellow around me. Until you learn to ask pertinent questions relating to the columns of our society, education, family, business, media, science, religion/ culture, and government, the right answer(s) wouldn’t resurface. Certain conditions call for keen observation and close examination; however, the urge to ask relevant questions sets the mind into flow mode thinking.

Additionally, I have also come to know that you will never know how loaded you are with information until you are asked pertinent questions relating to your specific discipline. Your timely response to someone’s question(s) becomes the anchor to their destiny. So, do you have any issue(s) bothering your mind? Open up to the right people and ask questions; else, your incessant worries become a burden to your safety, social and self-esteem needs.

Do you know that Thomas’ question to Jesus about spiritual destination caused the latter to offer one of the greatest statements of all-time concerning eternity? Listen to Jesus’ response: “I am the way, the truth and the life. no one comes to the Father but through Me?” (John 14:6).

Thomas’ question to Jesus was, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way (John 14:5)?” My thinking is, if Thomas had not asked Jesus this timely question, probably, we would have lost that assuring statement of ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ in the Bible. So, let’s ask purposeful questions.

At home, parents must be patient enough to handle all questions asked by their children. Whether they are relevant or irrelevant, your response has the power to shape the thought patterns of your children. If you shut them up out of anger, you weaken their self-confidence. Emotionally, most children even recoil to their shells in order not to be verbally abused by their parents, if a question receives a spiteful response. Parents should always find the best way of answering their children’s questions.

At the office, any supervisor or superior who manipulates their subordinates so much that they are intimidated in asking relevant questions regarding organisational drive heads toward disintegration. You see, insecure leaders run away from intelligent people who like to ask germane questions. They have forgotten that certain relevant questions from well-meaning subordinates add to the progress of the organisation. Sometimes, a question causes you to sit up and to recreate an atmosphere of creativity. So, as a leader, don’t beat about the bush. Be open and truthful to constructive questions from your people. On the other hand, subordinates must also be dutiful and responsible in working with the corporate vision without any ulterior motive.

What about the church? Indeed, the church can also do better if senior pastors become more open and accountable to questions about church growth (all matters relating to both physical and spiritual growth of the church).  As a leader, from time to time, learn to conduct performance appraisal. Allow your subordinates to assess the impact of your leadership style on the growth of your organisation. Subordinates’ constructive criticisms and incisive recommendations, if suitably sifted and applied, can radically change your level of thinking and add value to your scope of leadership as a leader. It takes a decisive leader to allow his subordinates to ask critical questions.

On the national level, our leaders must be bold enough to answer questions from the citizenry. Each year, most parts of our cities and towns in Ghana get flooded as a result of torrential rainfall. Thus, I ask: what preparation have we made so far to reverse this calamity? Are we waiting for the usual floods between the months of June and September or we have made adequate arrangements to resist these periodic floods? What about our roads and the improvement of our economy? Talk is cheap but action is suitable. Our leaders should come out with concrete steps and ways of mitigating challenging moments in our country.

As a nationalist, I prefer to ask critical questions about national security, road construction, education (vocational, science and technology), electric power, protection of our children, healthcare and agricultural development. When systems are in place, jobs can easily be re-created for the youth. It’s time we asked questions for our own development.

Let’s do away with partisan politics and build a stronger nation that becomes the epitome of greatness for Africa, and the world at large. Finally, it is time to sit up and ask yourself the following pertinent questions about self-development:

  • Are you comfortable with the way you use your money? So, what are the financial plans you are putting in place to save, and judiciously invest your money in a credible financial institution?
  • When are you giving up on your smoking and drinking habits? Do you know that they are dangerous to your own health? Yes, they have adverse effects on your kidney and liver functions.
  • Why is that you are not able to keep good people around you? Why is that whenever good people come your way, they inexplicably vanish from your life? Don’t you think that it may be your undesirable attitude which ought to be fixed? Until you learn to realign your attitude, you will always blame people and your stars for your inertia. Earlier in life, I learnt that when good people offer us an advice, they are not reproving us. It is chancy to think that correcting a mistake is a form of accusation. Indeed, a positive change in behaviour makes our lives better. So, do a personal assessment of your life instead of trumpeting your challenges to people in seeking their opinion or backing. The trajectory of life is, the proud find it difficult to accept their mistakes, duly apologise and move on in life.
  • Why are you failing as a parent? What plans are you putting in place to enhance your value as a father or a mother? Do you make time for your children? Do you inspire them to read healthy materials or they are always hooked onto needless TV programmes and worthless video games for hours, which consequently have adverse effects on their academic and moral lives?
  • How well do you relate with your colleagues, subordinates and your line-managers at the workplace? Do you know that productivity at the workplace largely depends on the emotional or psychological health of the people you work with? Think about it.
  • What do you gain in gossiping and running down the image of well-meaning people in the society?
  • Are you neutral in your persuasions or you take sides whenever there is an issue to resolve? Indeed, wise people know how to respectfully deal with people in resolving issues amicably. Do you have that wisdom skill?
  • Are you in an organisation to push your personal agenda by reassembling self-centred people to support your narrow-minded scheme, or without any ominous intention, you are there with an open heart to serve?
  • What is the motive behind most of the things you do in your organisation? Is it for fame, acceptance or power-driven superiority? Do you know that most sneaky or cunning people use obsequiousness, flattery, servility and otiose words in winning the hearts of other obsessive co-workers or enthusiasts to follow their fateful intention? So, what is your agenda or the condition of your heart?
  • Are you the type of person whose mind is controlled by a stronger force to act against your will or with an open-mind, you play an unbiassed or unprejudiced role in all your deliberations? A colleague professor used to tell me that in life, it is better to be a free thinker with a good guide than being pushed to the wall to think below the bar. So, who is controlling your mind and your behaviour?
  • Do you dress scruffily, grubbily or shabbily to the workplace, or you dress aptly or appropriately to serve as a role model, especially to others who look up to you for leadership? Do you know that in certain jurisdictions, some workers care less about the appropriate institutional dress code? In this regard, how do you fit into such an environment?
  • Why do you detest good and well-meaning people who do not support your malevolent intentions? Why do you always want to have faults with them? Do you know that your acerbic, horrid, sarcastic, sardonic and nasty comments about such people to a group of people cannot change their eccentricity? It is better to be constructive than being a destructive person.
  • How do you use your time? Do you waste enough time on unnecessary matters or you are a good steward of time? Do you know that time does not wait for any reckless person? Time is a commodity which, if not wisely used, passes by without any major accomplishment being made.
  • How organised is your kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and the surroundings of your house? How often do you clean these areas – bathroom, kitchen, living area and the bedroom?
  • Do you care about your physical appearance? If you do, you will always dress properly to add value to yourself.
  • How do you treat your spouse? Is your spouse valuable to you after years of marriage, or a ‘side-chick’ has taken the seat of your spouse? What steps are you putting in place to restore the sanity of your marriage?
  • As a subordinate, how serviceable are you to your leader’s vision and mission statements? Are you in that organisation to support its progress or you are part of the ‘Coup Makers’ whose agenda is to overthrow any good suggestion that fosters on unity of purpose and productivity?
  • How well do you relate with your parents, siblings, children and your in-laws?
  • How patriotic are you? Do you love your country? If you do, you will obey traffic regulations, avoid zipping down in public space to urinate, stop littering around, and do away with other social vices.
  • Why do you want to enter into politics? Is it for money, fame, power or for service in making your country better? Do you see politics as the easiest way to make riches and wealth, or you see politics as an avenue to contribute your quota toward national development?

If you are able to answer all these questions properly, like Thomas (in the book of John 14:5), the finest response will change your life forever.

The writer is an Academic, Visiting Lecturer, Leadership Consultant and a Reverend Minister with WordSprings City Church, Kumasi –Ghana.

Email: [email protected]

Grab copies of the writer’s books from Kingdom Bookshop, KNUST, Kumasi; and in Accra, contact: Mrs. Justina Asempa (Phoenix Insurance, Ringway Estates, Osu) on 0244 20 88 43 and Pastor Stephen Gyamfi (Asylum Down, 054 679 7323). In Sunyani, contact: Miriam on 054 929 89 16.

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