Many leaders make the mistake of confusing their concentration for curiosity. Leaders often like options, but too many options often lead to confusion. The leader who leads to hear the words “well done” and who hopes to inspire their team will keep their focus by being asked four critical questions that improve their work and effectiveness.
The Four Essential Questions Every Leader Should Be Asked
The questions that a leader is asked are critical to their effectiveness as a leader. The best leaders get asked questions by their trusted advisors and those who care about the success of the leader. The questions that a leader is asked will often determine how fast the organization can move forward.
Question 1: The Growth Question
A question that every leader should be asked is, “Where are you learning something new?” A good review for the leader each month is to examine what was the most significant lesson or growth area that they learned in the last thirty days.
When leaders quit learning, their organizations quit growing. Most leaders are exposed to something new every day. The best leaders are constantly learning new things and finding new ways. There is always something new to learn in leadership.
I had a conversation with a mentor who had reached the age of 90. I will never forget the power of that conversation. I asked him the question, “Now, at age 90, what is the most important leadership lesson that you have learned?” Normally, after I asked him a question, he would take a long pause to gather his thoughts and consider how to answer my question with clarity and concise words of power. This question impacted him differently. At this question, there was no pause, but he did answer with great clarity and conciseness. He simply stated, “I have learned that there is always something new to learn.”
Leaders should learn daily, mostly from their interactions with others and their team. Everyone has life experiences and a story to tell. When you listen to learn from others, you learn tremendously.
Question 2: The Innovation Question
A second question that every leader should be asked is, “What is the most significant change that is happening in your life?” Many leaders miss innovation because they miss the changes that are happening around them.
When business leaders can see change, they can adapt to change. When a leader ignores change, change exposes the lack of leadership. Leaders who scan the horizon on a consistent basis can find where innovation and change are happening so that they can further lead to more changes to happen.
Business and history books are filled with stories of leaders and companies that missed coming changes and were not able to adapt and change quickly enough. Change happens in life and business, and the one who is ready for the change is the one who can lead their organization through the change and be better because of it.
Question 3: The Focus Question
Another question that every leader should be asked is, “What is the most important project that you are called to complete, and where are you spending your time?” The focus question will point a leader to their ultimate purpose.
Leaders must know their top priorities. I remind leaders that when priorities become clear, everything in the organization becomes clear. The leader must determine what their most important area of focus is and how much time should be given to that area during any given month. The more that a leader can focus, the more that a leader can accomplish.
Dr. Nancy Napier wroteabout the myth of multitasking for an article in Psychology Today. In that article, she writes, “Research in neuroscience tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly. Each time we move from hearing music, to writing a text, or talking to someone, there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain. That start/stop/start process is rough on us. Rather than saving time, it costs time (even very small micro seconds). It’s less efficient, we make more mistakes and, over time, it can sap our energy.”
A focused leader will go far; a distracted leader will go nowhere.
Question 4: The Thanksgiving Question
A final question that every leader should ask them self is, “What is the biggest breakthrough or win that I can celebrate?” This is a momentum question.
Leading an organization can be difficult and stressful. Leaders are often inundated with problems and issues to solve and fires to put out. All of the negatives that come upon a leader can often lead the leader to disillusionment and depression. Every leader can become disillusioned, and many leaders do. However, for a leader to lead well, a leader must focus on the positive.
One way to do that is to ask the thanksgiving question. When a leader spends time reviewing and reflecting on what is going well, it can often help a leader find momentum to success. This can be extremely difficult at first, but it can often change a leader’s mindset, perspective and attitude.
One tool that I developed at my company was the concept of the Win Wall™. The win wall allows leaders to discover a multitude of successes in their life. When people start to find one win, it often leads to discovering many wins. And wins that are celebrated are more likely to be repeated.
When it comes to questioning, curiosity can be beneficial, but it can also be a sign of sabotage. “The insight that curiosity can drive you to do self-destructive things is a profound one,”sayscuriosity researcher and economics and psychology professor George Loewenstein.
That’s why it’s important for leaders to ask themselves the right questions. The questions that a leader asks themselves might be the most important leadership activity that a leader can engage in to lead effectively.
Note from Bob: Ken’s questions are not only great questions for leaders to ask themselves – they are also great questions for leaders to ask their staff and colleagues!
Ken’s Gosnell’s just released new book “Well Done” is indeed well done! It is filled with executable Biblical principles that will guarantee the success of any venture! And here is my favorite part of Ken’s book: Ken includes in each chapter questions that you can use to Lead Your Team With Questions to execute that principle in your context! You can order your “Well Done” book today by clicking HERE.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ken Gosnell is the CEO and Servant Leader of CEO Experience(CXP). His company serves CEOS and leaders by helping them to have great experiences that both transform them and their organizations that enable to go further faster. Ken is the publisher of the CXP CEO Executive Guidethat is designed to help leaders learn faster by encouraging to give themselves a monthly learning retreat. His monthly CEO retreatshave helped thousands of CEOs and their leadership teams to enhance strategic, operational and people accomplishments. He is a keynote speaker, executive coach, and strategic partner with CEOs and successful business leaders. He is also the author of the book Well Done – Biblical Business Principles to grow a business and a Kingdom Impact due out in early 2020. Connect with Ken on Twitter & LinkedIn
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