Associate Professor of Decision Sciences
Asking Questions; Questions as Information; Leader Competence; Leader Humility; Communication; Social Perception; Practitioners’ Beliefs;
The authors advance a questions-as-information approach to the study of the consequences of asking questions for leader effectiveness. They contend that questions go beyond their instrumental purpose to convey information about the asker’s lack of competence and high humility, and thus inform possible doubts about the leader, producing competence penalties and humility premiums.In Study 1, they find that most practitioners do not ask questions at every opportunity and many do not endorse questions as a way of looking competent, especially if competence is in doubt. In Studies 2–5, they shed light on both the competence and humility repercussions of questioning. the authors find that competence penalties occur when leader competence is in doubt ex ante, but humility premiums are pervasive. Humility premiums affect leader helping and trust positively and buffer the negative effects of competence penalties. They discuss the implications of their findings for leadership, communication, and decision making in organizations.