I love questions. If you’ve been around me, that’s no surprise.

[pullquote align=”normal”]I believe the right question is more powerful than offering — or even knowing — the correct answer. [/pullquote]

The practice of asking questions is rich. It includes asking, answering, and even assessing. It relies on listening. Often I learn the most when I listen to what isn’t said.

I’ve gotten a lot of awesome feedback on the release of the Straight Talk Framework. Including some questions (hah!) and comments I’ll address as soon as possible. The conversation is just getting started.

Today I want to focus on the power of questions.

What you can do with just five leadership questions

Part of what makes the Straight Talk Framework so powerful is the use of 5 leadership questions:

  1. What problem are we trying to solve?
  2. How tall to ride? (you’re going to love the power of this one – I explain why in the video below)
  3. What is the value?
  4. How do we measure?
  5. How do we communicate?

What makes the questions effective is their simplicity. They are simple by design. But simple questions are deceptive. They are generally easier to ask than to answer. These questions are resistant to cut-and-paste answers.

That’s the point.

Just these five questions:

  • Give people a voice (when asked and allowed to answer)
  • Surface the information we need to make better decisions
  • Offer a consistent way to evaluate options and efforts

These are more than questions. They form a way of thinking.

Don’t ask questions just to get answers

The purpose of asking the question isn’t just to get to the answer.

It’s the process of getting the answer that is valuable. It’s what gives people their voice and fills in the context. It’s a dialogue that builds connections and reduces friction.

Questions open the door to understanding.

Sometimes we get in our own way

The questions of the Straight Talk Framework pose an odd challenge. They feel familiar when reading them. They sound familiar when we hear them. We think we know them.

We mistake our familiarity with the questions for our competence in using them.

The struggle is real during the Leadership Summits and Straight Talk Programs. What seems so simple when we learn it turns into a bit of a challenge to sit and write out cogent answers. It’s a welcomed wakeup call.

The struggle is natural. The good news is that it’s easy to fix…

…if you’re willing to invest the time to practice.

Building a personal practice of using 5 leadership questions

Getting better at asking the questions starts by getting better at answering the questions. It starts with you. Today. Right now, even. Make the questions part of your routine and you’ll see your thinking shift.

The best way to get good at asking the questions is to first learn to answer them. Especially in a variety of contexts and situations.

You’ll learn how to listen and guide the answers without steering it too much.

Let me help you get a handle on the five questions

I just put together an overview of the 5 leadership questions of the Straight Talk Framework. In the brief video, I offer more prompts and ways to think about each. I also share a powerful strategy to put the questions to work for you.

Take a look:


I built a companion workbook, too. It’s yours when you join my VIP Launch List; that way I can let you know about updates and launches. The programs designed to boost your journey to exceptional leadership and powerful communication.

You can get the workbook here:

PS: I make an offer in the video. It’s exciting to think about what we can do together. I look forward to what you come up with.

About the Author Michael Santarcangelo

The founder of Security Catalyst, Michael develops exceptional leaders and powerful communicators with the security mindset for success.

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