Leadership = The Balance Of Advocating Vs. Inquiring

In almost every organization, people have a viewpoint to express. It is important to be able to express their viewpoint in a context which allows you to learn more about others’ views while they learn more about yours.

In todays “Blog”, we will discuss and set forth the need to learn how to skillfully balance the aspects of advocacy with inquiry.

People love their opinions, which is why it is most difficult to master the skillset of balanced advocacy with inquiring. The ultimate benefit to the organization comes when the more creative and insightful realizations occur when multiple people combine multiple perspectives.

There are more than a dozen distinct combinations of varying levels of advocacy and inquiry, each having its own impact. Moreover, there are dysfunctional forms of advocacy and inquiry. For example, in every organization, smart people can jade the advocacy process by what may appear to be an “inquisition” if the person advocating simply dictates their point of view, while refusing to make their reasoning process visible. They can tend to be unwilling to expose their thinking and may even “withdraw” into silence mode, instead of taking the opportunity to learn through observation.

Even when others ask them to cooperate for the sake of the team, they move from silence to “telling” mode in the form of statements like, “Here’s what I say, and never mind why. I’ve read the book. Trust me. I know what I am doing.” This is a dysfunctional approach.

Inquiry on the other hand can be equally as sensitive and difficult to master as a skillset of balanced advocacy with inquiring.

It is said that each of us as human beings have a natural predilection towards inquiry. Specifically so in that men are more rewarded for their advocacy attributes, and women more for their inquiry attributes. For example in the career disciplines, men are more prevalent in debate and law advocacy, whereas women are more prevalent in the journalism and social work career disciplines.

Successful “inquiry” skillsets lend itself to two signal inquiries:

  1. Clarifying – “What is the question we are trying to answer here?
  2. Interviewing – “Exploring others point of view, and the reasons behind them.


In closing, the necessity of mastering the above noted skillsets of advocacy and inquiry is tantamount to the success of any leader. It is literally a recipe for success or disaster in terms of the culture of your organization.

You can note the culture and growth of any organization and immediately hypothesize that a proper balance of advocacy and inquiry exists.