You already know that leadership involves casting vision. A leader has a clear picture of a preferred future, helps people see it, and motivates them to get there.
So we think of leadership as mostly about setting direction by making statements. After all, people look to us for direction.
Questions are actually just as important, and sometimes even more powerful, than declarative statements. When a leader asks questions, it communicates humility, focuses attention, and invites others into decision making.
More important, asking powerful questions equips you to make the best decision possible.
Here are three questions every leader should ask frequently.
- What Would Happen If?
It’s tempting to manage your organization in a reactionary way, responding to problems and repeating processes in the same old ways.
Break that cycle by asking “What if”? What would happen if we didn’t launch five new products this year? What would happen if we allowed the sales staff to make this decision? What would happen if we offered more perks and fewer bonuses?
This question injects creativity and possibility into your leadership. Ask it often.
- What Am I Missing?
How many huge mistakes have been made by capable leaders who thought they knew everything? A wise leader seeks counsel, outside opinions, input from staff, and consultants.
Before you pull the trigger on your next big decision, ask, “What am I missing? What information have I not yet considered? Whose perspective is missing from this discussion?”
Don’t over think it, but don’t under think it either. Consider all points of view.
- Who Can Help Me?
Most of the leaders I know pride themselves on being capable. They’re highly skilled and very good at what they do. But nobody can do everything. Generally, no team can handle every challenge either. No matter who you are, you can benefit from another set of eyes and another pair of hands.
Asking “Who can help me?” opens you to the possibility of taking your work to a higher level. That help might come from within your organization; it might come from the outside. Or you may determine that you and your team are capable of handling the challenge on your own.
But you’ll never know until you ask the question. So be humble enough to ask for help.
If your voice is the only one that gets heard in your organization, you’re not asking enough questions. Add these powerful queries to your repertoire, and you’ll become a stronger leader.
What’s the most powerful leadership question you know? I’d love to hear your answer on Facebook or Twitter!