Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win – Key Concepts


We keep moving forward , opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ~ Walt Disney

This week I am participating in building buzz around Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win.  This book is aimed at leaders and offers a new mindset and a practical approach to thriving in the firestorm of change that today’s leaders face.

Existing businesses and business models are facing disruption at all levels. Our younger employees are not satisfied with just a “job,” but rather, want work that allows them to be involved and included in decisions— or they will walk. Leaders of teams who, in the past, could lead through command and control are finding themselves unable to keep up with the pace of change and the expanding challenges of engaging their talent.

This book offers readers a new and relevant framework to guide both personal and group decision-making. With rich stories and practical approaches, you will learn where you currently fall between two leadership styles defined as the Knower leader and the Learner leader. Guy Parsons and Allan Milham demonstrate how you can make continuous progress towards the ideals of Learner Leadership in order to achieve the best possible outcomes, which inspire and engage teams.

The key for leaders today is to carefully forge authentic and genuine questions, delivered with the right tone and in the right setting. By leading with curiosity and wonder, leaders can reduce stress on themselves by no longer needing to have all the answers. Leading with curiosity creates a collaborative learning environment in which shared explorations of possible solutions flourish, leading to genuine questions. The process is rewarding for all and the results allow a team to accelerate their progress through the power of many.

This post is an excerpt from chapter 9 of Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win.

Bringing Home the Key Concepts

Throughout the book we emphasize the importance of pausing and thinking before engaging in a situation. Here, we want to provide a high-level review of the key themes from the book and speak to what you can start applying tomorrow morning. We offer the following roadmap:

Define Your Purpose (desired outcome):

When engaging with another individual or team, decide if the situation requires a structured outcome and define in your mind what your desired outcome might be. Also, understand the scope of the situation (e.g., do you need to engage outside support, sponsors, or individuals to achieve the intended purpose?).


Ask what needs attention for you to achieve your purpose. What information do you need to gather to lead the conversation effectively, either in a one-on-one session or a team environment?


Have you provided those involved with the right context, preparatory work, and/or information so that the one-on-one or team engagement can commence in an effective way?

Setting the Stage:

Have you set the stage to amplify the potential for creative thinking? This includes timing, the right physical space (onsite/offsite?), and the right players (fresh eyes), so that everyone can engage in a creative and innovative discussion.

Lead from the Learner Mindset:

Are you in your optimal operating state, ready to identify and manage any limiting beliefs? Are you willing to challenge existing operating assumptions?

Start Small and Build Your Skills:

Leading consistently from the Learner mindset is a skill that you’ll need to practice over time to build strength. We’re all prone to slipping into a Knower mindset in response to the daily demands placed on us. The goal is to raise your level of self-awareness so that you can calibrate your leadership style toward the Learner mindset. With practice, leaders can shift behaviorally toward this new leadership mindset. This shift will produce powerful results for themselves, their teams, their customers, their company, their stakeholders, and the company’s bottom line.

Practice All of the Above with a Spirit of Respect and Humility:

Use authentic questions to push the boundaries of thinking and approach the problems with a fundamental belief in the skills and knowledge of the people who do the work.

Which one of these steps can you start applying tomorrow?

About the Book

Pick up your copy of Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win on Amazon.

About the Authors

Guy Parsons is the Founder and Managing Principal of Value Stream Solutions (VSS).

Allan Milham’s work as a professional leadership and performance coach over the past 16 years has centered on using powerful questions.

For Guy, 20+ years of delights and frustrations consulting with firms attempting to make operational and cultural transformations sparked an evolution in his relationship with his professional coach, Allan, and was the inspiration for Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win. Their book has sparked a new mindset and a practical approach to thriving in the competitive and evolving landscape that today’s leaders face.

Photo Credit: Big Stock


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