Asking questions can help leaders gather information, solve problems more effectively and create a sense of connection with those around them, writes Pia Lauritzen, co-founder of Qvest. Lauritzen outlines the six components of “the magical question triangle,” which lies at the heart of an inquiry-driven culture.



It has become a habit of mine to kick off my presentations by inviting people to write down a question. I ask people to follow two rules: the question must be relevant to the context—typically, leaders meeting in or across organizations to discuss leadership—and it must be important to the person asking the question to get an answer.

After two minutes of reflection time, 90% of the people in the room have written something down. That’s when I ask them: Is it hard to come up with a question in a situation in which they know nothing about what’s going to happen next? Most of them say yes, because the exercise has forced them to:


  • make up their mind about what’s important
  • take other people’s situations into account
  • think of their input in light of a shared goal.


By the time I start sharing my research on the nature and impact of questions, my audience will already have experienced and explained to themselves, and to one another, why successful leaders love questions: it’s because asking, listening to, and answering other people’s questions makes them better leaders.

Indeed, there is a methodology, derived from six ideas from great thinkers, for harnessing the power of questions that can help leaders make better decisions and be more empathetic and purpose-driven. I call it the magical question triangle (see figure).


Building an inquiry-driven culture

Having worked as an advisor to executives for 18 years, I have never come across another theory, method, or tool that in two minutes helps leaders make up their mind about what’s important, take other people’s situations into account, and think of their input in light of their company’s or team’s common goal.