Top 5 Questions Great Leaders Should Ask Their Teams

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Guest Post by Martin Webster

Are you a great leader? How effective is your team? Is the team frustrated with your leadership?

Unless you ask your team some tough questions you won’t know.

Stick with me and I’ll show you the five most important questions you should ask the team.

Great leaders should ask their teams searching questions.

If you’re a team leader — and that’s every leader — make these top 5 questions part of your weekly routine.

5 Questions Team Leaders Should Ask Their Teams

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

1. What can I do for you?

Regular one-to-one or supervision sessions are essential for both team leader and employee. Supervision provides a great opportunity to learn about your leadership style, team performance and employee.

Use your one-to-one meetings to build trust. Find out if there is anything you can do for the team.

Great leaders ask their teams the question: “What can I do for you?”

In asking this question you are saying, “I’m interested in you!” Your giving the employee an opportunity to say something they may otherwise have left unsaid. And, if you agree to do something make sure you do follow it through!

2. What should I do different?

Use your supervision session to build trust.

Listen with presence — give your audience every attention — and create an opportunity to learn about your leadership style. If you wish to improve your performance, seek feedback and ask this question: “What should I do different?”

3. What can we do better?

Next, focus on the team. Ask the team this question: “What can we do better?” Find out what can be improved, why it should be improved, and how the team can do this.

4. What is holding us back?

Teams often get frustrated because obstacles get in the way of doing a great job. As team leader it is your responsibility to remove those obstacles and make sure the team is performing at its best.

So ask “What is holding us back?” and uncover the barriers to progress.

5. What’s working well?

Finally, grasp what’s going well for the team and acknowledge this. Just ask: “What’s going well?”

Now build on those strengths!

After spending time listening to the team answer these questions you’ll have confidence to tackle issues and keep your team on course.

Moreover, involving your team in this way creates confidence in them and in your leadership.

What questions do you ask your team?


Martin Webster is managing solution architect for a large UK public sector organisation and has more than 20 years’ experience in project delivery and business change. He works with senior people to solve complex business problems. Martin also writes regularly about project management, leadership teams and business change. Click Here to be notified when he writes a new article.

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What People Are Saying

Lynn Ferguson-Pinet   |   08 March 2014   |   Reply

I think this is a wonderful list, my question is around how often you should ask. The questions should generate a list of “todo’s or at least an awereness to change behaviour so shouldn’t the focus after the initial ask be to see some impact of asking and answering the questions before asking the initial questions again?

Interested in your perspective.


Bob Tiede   |   08 March 2014   |  

Thanks Lynn – you make a great point! There does have to be a process of 1) Asking 2) Listening 3) Acting on the input – before we “Ask” again!