One of the best things a leader can do is ask questions. I love to say to teams I lead, “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. The better your questions the better your leadership can be.
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 question should be asked every time a project is assigned.)
How can I help you?
(This should be asked periodically – and sincerely – with adequate follow-through to the answer.)
What do you think is going to be next?
(Great leaders are always asking this question – inside and outside the organization.)
Where should I/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?/What do I not know that I should know?
(This question can never be asked too often. It’s sometimes good to allow people to anonymously answer this one.)
How can we do better next time?/What should we not do?/What should we do differently?
(These are great evaluation questions after events or special projects.)
What do you think?
(Anytime someone asks my opinion, they get this question BEFORE I answer. The reality is they often already have an answer – they just want someone to give them assurance.)
What changes could we implement to make our/your work life better?
(This question is especially needed when a team member begins to feel overwhelmed, but the question 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 a good question 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 always ask this question at staff meetings and retreats. Sometimes they won’t ask in the group, but since I gave “permission” to ask they will 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.)