12 Great Leadership Questions Every Leader Should Be Asking

One of the best things a leader can do is ask the right questions. I love to say to our team, “I only know what I know.” The leader can often be the last to know where there is a problem or what others are thinking, so asking questions is critical to good leadership.

I love this quote from Jack Welch: “When you’re a contributor you try to have all the answers. When you’re a leader, your job is to have all the questions.”

Great leaders ask great questions.

Here are 12 great leadership questions every leader should be asking:

What can we learn from this? (This is a great evaluation question – especially after something goes wrong.)

Do you understand what I’m asking you to do? (This should be asked every time a project is assigned.)

How can I help you? (This should be asked periodically – and sincerely.)

What’s next? (Great leaders are always asking this question – inside and outside the organization.)

Where should we be placing our best energy? (I like to ask this question quarterly to help plan our goals and objectives for the upcoming season.)

What am I missing or forgetting? (This question can never be asked too often. It’s sometimes good to allow people to anonymously answer this one.)

How can we do it better next time? (Great evaluation question after events or special projects.)

What do you think? (Anytime someone asks my opinion. They often already know – they just want someone to give them assurance.)

What changes could we implement to make your work life better? (This question is needed when a team member begins to feel overwhelmed – but is always appreciated.)

What would you do differently if you had my position? (I like this as an annual question to reflect on the coming year – but it’s good anytime.)

Are you enjoying your work? (You’ll get some unique answers to this one, but it should be asked regularly.)

What would you like to ask me, but you haven’t had an opportunity? (I ask this one at staff meetings and retreats. Sometimes they won’t ask in the group, but email me later.)

Pick a few of those questions, try them on your team, and let me know your results.

What question would you add? (See, there’s another great question.)

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Ron Edmondson

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  • […] 12 Great Leadership Questions Every Leader Should Be Asking. One of John Maxwell’s recent books was Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. Ron Edmondson offers us twelve great questions that every leader should ask. […]

  • […] 12 Great Leadership Questions Every Leader Should Be Asking — Ron Edmondson […]

  • Steve Simms says:

    What are some ways that we can empower people to speak and testify in Sunday worship services? Some answers to that question here: http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Church-Lost-Bible-Ek

  • jimpemberton says:

    I was pleased as I went down through this list to discover that I ask most of these questions naturally.

    One of these questions we implemented institutionally as an incentive at the plant where I work: "What changes could we implement to make your work life better?" We phrase it a little differently to open it up to any good idea that an associate has. Any idea that is implemented earns a hundred dollars for the one who suggested it. We've actually gotten some great cost savings, and process and safety improvements.

    So when you are leading a larger group of people, you can get creative in asking them these questions if you don't have time to get around to everyone often enough.

  • Dr. Shambra Mulder says:

    Pastor Ron, your articles are timely! I would add: Why are you here? Why do you (they) think I am here? These are questions I have all the time.

  • […] Aware leaders are consistently asking people questions and making intentional efforts to uncover people’s true feelings about the organization and their leadership. (Read a post of questions I wrote called 12 Great Leadership Questions HERE.) […]

  • […] Aware leaders are consistently asking people questions and making intentional efforts to uncover people’s true feelings about the organization and their leadership. (Read a post of questions I wrote called 12 Great Leadership Questions HERE.) […]

  • parkerministries says:

    When I was leading our Women's Ministry I ended every leadership meeting with "What have I forgotten? Is there anything else we need to do?" There were a few times the group insight caught something I had missed. All your suggestions are great. Good leaders ask questions!

  • Humph Baker says:

    Abs fab – and thank you for posting these. How much is this adjustment to #2 worth considering?
    "Do you understand…' may just draw a simple 'Yes' – with the listener retaining a different understanding to the leader.
    How much stronger and healthier working relationships might follow this version? "What do you understand by this request/proposal/suggestion/solution etc?"

  • […] Continuously:  One of the best ways to learn is to ask questions:  Ron Edmondson’s blog on 12 Great Leadership Questions offers great questions that can open my eyes to “see what only a leader can […]

  • Ben Steele says:

    Question I would add: Why do we do it this way?

  • Good questions and as long as you are able to actively listen, the information submitted can be transferred into worthwhile team goals. If people are willing to share their values with you, your understanding of what motivates people from within is important.

  • Mark Fagerstrom says:

    Wow! My newest best friend! (I like the way you think!)
    I would add, "What I hear you saying…" (clarification question in communication – whatever shape it takes).

  • […] 12 Great Leadership Questions  The final one is from Ron Edmondson, whom I have highlighted before.  This is a quick, but really practical read.  Ron offers up 12 questions that are great for any team leader at any level. […]

  • Eric Barron says:

    I think I'll send these to my supervisors… well, maybe not…

  • Great recommendations. Several months ago, I made a list of 20-30 questions to use in my one-on-one meetings with my team members. I also developed a template for these meetings to help me listen more effectively. These two actions have been transformational decisions for my relationships. Thanks for the reminders!
    Twitter: Michaelenichols

    • ronedmondson says:

      That's a great idea! Thanks!
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

      • Patti says:

        Would you be open to sharing your template or some of the questions? I am leading a team of people at least 15 years or more my senior. Knowing how to have a productive conversation that doesn't lead to a quick summation that as a "young leader", I don't know what I am doing would be so helpful.

        Anyone have any suggestions for me?

  • @Bryankr says:

    2,3,5&6 I have done in retail for years. It helps a good deal in getting my people on the same page, and it insures that when I am not in the immediate area, they are still able to complete whatever tasks given, which always kept my superiors off my neck! LOL!
    The last question was one I was always sure to add to my employee evaluations. It gave them input, sometimes more than I wanted, but usually , it was really quite helpful in evaluating the work I was doing with them!

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