Open and closed questions

136Remember to word your questions carefully, selecting open or closed questions as appropriate.

Closed questions do not encourage the speaker to elaborate on their viewpoint, merely requiring a yes/no answer “Have you always thought that? “

Open questions seek elaboration “Why do you think that? “


It is useful to summarise at the end of the conversation, again to clarify understanding of both party’s viewpoint and position. This should reflect what has been said, and not be an interpretation of what you (the listener) think or believe. The summary should not judge, offer explanations or provide a solution.

Effective Communication

Communication is another important skill for leaders. It is the transfer of information between individuals or groups of people. In any communication there are senders and receivers of a message.

Communication can be Verbal, written, nonverbal – such as body language, graphical –or using charts and diagrams. Group communication skills are affected by self-esteem and personal confidence levels.

A skilled communicator will ensure that their message is delivered clearly, with no opportunity for misinterpretation, or misunderstanding. There are a number of reasons why a message may be distorted, including;

The state of mind of the listeners –anger , grief, stress, fear, may cause an inability to absorb the message

  • Use of jargon or technical terms.
  • Lack of understanding of the topic
  • Lack of relevance, leading to audience inattention,
  • opposing viewpoint or prejudice , people making assumptions which are not effectively dispelled
  • Disabilities – poor hearing or sight
  • Language barrier
  • Physical barriers which mean audience can’t hear, observe body language or see visual aids
  • Cultural differences, taboos

What skills do leaders need?

Leadership and management

There are many definitions of leadership, but it certainly involves having a Vision of where you want to be, either personally or for your company. In order to develop, plan and implement their Vision, the key skills leaders need include;-

  • Strategic thinking, to develop the vision and strategy
  • Organisation skills to facilitate delivery of the vision,
  • Time Management
  • Risk management to minimise problems and manage them when they arise.
  • Decision making skills to make good decisions in support of their strategy delivery.
  • Problem solving skills. This is another key leadership skill.
  • People skills

We have already considered many of these skills on this site and I will give you the appropriate page link as we look briefly at each of turn
Strategic thinking

We consider business strategy in this module

Every business needs a Vision for the future, a strategy, and a set of tactics or an action plan to get it to its goal. In the same way everyone should have a strategy for their own life and their own career.

To develop a strategy, you must first assess where you are. Then you need to define a goal, and allocate a timescale to it .There are many tools available to help with this, including brainstorming, blue sky thinking, workshops. Develop milestones and an action plan, and there you have it –a strategic plan!

(We discussed Creative thinking business tools in this module)

Strategy should be reviewed and reassessed regularly, perhaps quarterly or annually to review how it has been implemented, measure progress against it and evaluate all actions and decisions against it. Evaluate its success and consider whether it needs to be replaced by an updated strategy to meet changed economic factors, new technology, new competitors, or a new social, financial, or political environment.