You only get answers to the questions you ask. That’s why leaders need to ask great questions of themselves and others. Why? Socrates believed people are pregnant with ideas and that they simply can’t deliver on their on. They need help from a “midwife”, and that’s one role of the leader. John C Maxwell’s book, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, posed several questions to ask. Here are a few:
- Am I investing in myself? Am I advancing my personal growth?
- Am I building excellent relationships? As Maxwell said in Winning with People, “All things being equal, people will do business with people they like. All things not being equal, they still will.”
- Am I asking my team members constantly two questions: “what do you love?” and “what did you learn?” Connect with them on these issues on a regular basis.
- How do I determine my leadership potential? Am I paying attention to the needs I see, my natural abilities to help others, and making the most out of my passion?
Leadership is influence, the ability of one person to influence others to follow his or her lead. What attributes increase your ability to influence others: Here are several
- Character: who you are and what you stand for
- Relationships: whom you know
- Knowledge: what you know.
- Communication: how you connected
- Passion: what you feel
- Experience: where you’ve been
- Successes: what you’ve done
- Ability: what you can do in the future
He also notes the difference between self-serving and serving leaders. The former ask “What are others doing for me?”; they see people as workers they own. Serving leaders ask “what am I doing for others?” and see people as “teammates on loan”.
When a new leader is brought into a company and/or department, one of the first questions asked is “what things I should do first when taking responsibility for the group? I agree with several of his priorities:
- Connect with people to strengthen relationships
- Engage in activities that earn people’s trust.
- Position team members so they can add maximum value and maximize potential for success
- Create clear expectations
- Encourage people to push themselves to their capacity
Finally, as leaders we play many roles, depending on our abilities and the needs of the organization and team, we may play one or more of these roles:
- Catalyst – make things happen
- Influencer – get people to do what needs to be done, even when they’re not quite ready to do it yet
- Relationship Builder – great people skills are developed, not taught!
- Gatherer – the ability to attract people to you and your cause
- Value Adder – leaderships is helping others, not just yourself
- Opportunist – seeing and seizing opportunities for their organization and team
- Finisher – the job is to deliver the results, with no excuses.
Each leader’s questions are “which roles do I need to pay and how well can I do so?”
What questions do you ask yourself? Share them and the answers!