Managers want to give all the answers, but leaders ask the tough questions. It’s a different way of helping people think through their own decisions and how it affects the organization.
I have five pages of questions I recommend CEOs and leaders ask their people. Here are just some examples of the questions I use to help leaders develop their employees [FOOTNOTE: many of these questions come or were adapted from Peter Block’s, Community: A Sense of Belonging]:
What’s your contribution to this not being successful or to the problem you’re talking about?
What’s your responsibility for this not being successful?
That’s a tough question for someone who comes in and says, “Here’s what I was supposed to do. It didn’t work.”
What did you learn from this?
What’s become clear since the last time you and I met and talked about it?
What is an area that if you made one improvement would you and the others get the greatest return on your time, energy and dollars?
What topic are you hoping I wouldn’t bring up?
Here’s a great one.
What part of your responsibilities are you avoiding now?
Who are your strongest employees? What are you doing to ensure they’re happy and motivated?
Who are your weakest employees? What’s your plan for them?
What conversation are you avoiding right now?
Think of your spouse, significant other, family member — what conversation are you avoiding right now?
What are you not doing well that’s preventing you from getting to where you want to be?
What values do we stand for and are there gaps between those values and how we actually behave?
How have we behaved in ways guaranteed to produce the results with which we’re unhappy? If nothing changes, what’s likely to happen?
What goals are most appealing to you? What would it look like and feel like if you achieved your goals?
Then there are some interesting personal questions:
What’s the forgiveness you are unwilling to offer? What’s the resentment you hold that you haven’t given up?
A leader who asks the right kind of question at the right time will help employees attain that higher level within their organization. Leaders have got to have an ability to ask themselves the same questions they ask their employees. They have to be truthful enough to answer them too in order to achieve successful leadership within their organization.