Ever noticed how the person asking the sharp questions in meetings tends to look like they’ve got their act together, even if they might not be the most experienced person in the room? That’s because a well-timed question showcases your strategic thinking, subtly hinting, “I’m dialled in, and I’m driving this conversation”.

Believe it or not, sounding strategic is a skill that anyone can learn. And the good news is, having strong strategic acumen isn’t about having all the answers. A lot of the time, it’s about asking the right questions.

It’s a profound thought, isn’t it? We’re wired to think that people want to hear our opinions, our expertise, and our thoughts on a matter. But, more often than not, they want to feel valued and heard. Enter: the magic of a well-placed question.

Why? Most people love to be asked questions because it signals to them that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say. Think back to the last time someone probed a little deeper into something you mentioned. Felt good, right? That’s the power of active listening.

The beauty of it all is you don’t have to be the most experienced person in the room to pose intelligent, strategic questions. It’s about taking the current situation and delving a tad deeper. Curious about how to do that? Let’s break down five questions that could elevate your strategic acumen in your next meeting:

“What do you see as our biggest growth opportunity with this project?”

This question is golden because it shifts the conversation from just ‘doing tasks’ to ‘driving growth’. It showcases your forward-thinking approach and prompts the team to think about the project’s potential impact.

“What can we be doing differently to position ourselves better in the year ahead?”

With this question, you’re inviting innovative ideas and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. It shows that you’re not just concerned with the now, but also with the future of the team and the organisation.

“How does this project align with the organisation’s goals to be (insert goal)?”

Alignment is key in any organisation. This question underscores that you’re not just thinking about the project in isolation but in the grand scheme of the organisation’s objectives. It subtly nudges everyone to ensure they’re rowing in the same direction.

“What is the most important thing for us to accomplish in the next quarter?”

Similar to the first question, but with a shorter horizon, this emphasises immediate priorities and makes it clear that you’re considering quick wins as well as the bigger goals. It’s a reminder that while long-term visions are crucial, there are pivotal milestones to hit in the short term too.

Remember, these aren’t just questions; they’re strategic tools. Each one serves to steer the conversation, elicit insights, and position you as someone who’s not just participating, but leading the dialogue in a meaningful direction.

In the corporate maze, it’s easy to get lost in the noise. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the right question, asked at the right time, can be a beacon of clarity. So the next time you’re in that team huddle or brainstorming session, don’t just wait for your turn to talk. Listen intently, think critically, and when the moment feels right, ask a question that could change the trajectory of the conversation.