Leadership Development: Failure and the Power of Questions (20 points)
Leadership Development assignments should be single-spaced with a 1,500-word minimum NOT COUNTING THE
TEMPATE WORDS. (Note: meeting the minimum word count does not guarantee a perfect score.) The assignment
will be graded as follows:
Good (20 points) Satisfactory (15 points) Unsatisfactory (0-10 points)
Responses to all items are
detailed, well-developed, and
supported with specific
Uses critical thinking and shows
depth in application of course
Most responses are detailed,
well-developed, and supported
with specific evidence.
understanding in application of
Item responses are incomplete
and/or very brief.
Demonstrates little insight into
application of course content.
Writing must be appropriate for upper-division course.
Points will be deducted for grammar, spelling, syntax, and punctuation errors.
PART I: RECENT PERSONAL FAILURE THAT WAS A GIFT IN HINDSIGHT
An important part of Challenging the Process is to try new things, create new opportunities, experiment,
and learn from mistakes. Things don’t always go as planned or as we hope, but there are great lessons
we can learn from our failures.
Think about something that you failed at (didn’t get a job or promotion, failed relationship, didn’t achieve
a personal goal, etc.) that turned out to be a blessing, a gift, or good thing in hindsight. It can be related
to any part of your life – family, school, work, or community.
1) What was the failure?
2) Why did it turn out to be a good thing in hindsight?
3) What did you learn from the experience?
PART II: THE POWER OF QUESTIONS
Challenge the Process also focuses on seeking new and innovative ways to change, grow and improve.
Successful leaders look for new ways all the time and challenge themselves to move beyond the status
Leaders have to be good at listening and observing what is going on around them. Using questions is a
great way to get the information you need to create, innovate, grow, and improve but leaders are often
reluctant to use them. A leader often believes that as the person in charge, he or she is supposed to have
all the answers and should not ask for the answers.
But questions have many benefits such as:
1) What is a leadership challenge that you have in your life – it can be work, a school project, or anything
where you are experiencing difficulty with others and are trying to find a solution.
Questions solicit information without passing judgment.
Questions allow people to come up with their own ideas.
Questions provide an avenue for cooperation without creating entrenched
Questions hold up a mirror allowing one to reflect on what the answer really
Questions allow one to test assumptions, especially when the wrong assumption
might prove embarrassing.
Questions create a situation in which people can get to know one another and
build trusting relationships.
Questions facilitate deeper understanding by digging beneath the surface.
Questions protect one who does not want to give away information.
Questions guide one’s thinking in order to sell an idea and get another’s buy-in
before announcing a concrete decision.
Question provide answers when other people just don’t know.
Adapted from the Leadership Challenge Activities Book, Kouzes and Posner,
2) Watch Steve Aguirre’s TED Talk on “The Power of Questions” to help you with #3 and #4 below.
3) Next develop the following questions to help you do a better job LISTENING and OBSERVING about this
issue. To whom will you ask the questions?
Question begins with
The Question To whom will you ask?
TO WHAT EXTENT
4) Are there other questions you would like to ask? Remember use questions as a way to learn and to
get buy in from others. Often questions work better than telling someone what to do.
5) How can your questions help you with your leadership challenge (from #1).
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