Wrong questions turn people’s attention to distracting issues. You hinder progress when you distract your team.
Distractions cause damage.
Questions establish focus.
- Don’t ask about details when dreams are forming. Details kill dreams.
- Don’t ask about dreams when it’s time to execute.
- Don’t ask “why” when reasons for failure aren’t acceptable.
Questions are statements.
Right answers require the right people.
- Ask critics about their values and assumptions.
- Ask front line people to explain what it takes to get things done, not upper management.
- Ask committed teammates how you might move forward.
12 neglected questions successful leaders keep asking:
- Who are you/we becoming? “Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do.” Frances Hesselbein
- If things continue as they are, will you be happy with where you end up?
- What’s best for my team? (Try inserting customers, employees, leaders into the question.) Rise above “what’s best for me” thinking.
- What tough decisions would a new leader make? Defending past decisions keeps you doing wrong things.
- What are you trying to accomplish? The capacity to keep struggling, after losing sight of what you’re trying to accomplish, is astonishing and tragic.
- What’s working?
- Where are we winning? (Try inserting “how” in place of “where”.)
- What do you need to stop? It takes more courage to stop something old than to start something new. Over-commitment and distraction are the result of starting new things without stopping old.
- What’s giving you energy? (Alternative: Where is the energy in our organization?)
- How are you getting where you want to go?
- Who are you serving?
- What do the people you serve value?
Questions explain what matters. Wrong questions are distractions.