How great are you as a Leader? In all circumstances, your ability to be a great leader will determine your success as well as your team’s success. Your team is your reflection.
Leadership is not prescriptive and what works for one person may not work for another. Whether you’re running a company, heading up a startup or managing or leading a team there is one trait that leaders have, they are constantly asking themselves and others questions to stay relevant and perceptive.
The Importance of Communication
Communication is the glue that binds a great team and as a Leader, communication is as much about listening as it is about asking the right questions. Generally, it’s not so much what we communicate, it is how we communicate so being self-aware of you tone an body language goes a long way to becoming a great leader.
Recently I had the pleasure of attending a Peter Fisher workshop called the “Heart of Communication”. One of the main items i took away was the importance of creating an environment of open communication. As Leaders to communicate effectively we need to;
- appreciate diversity
- reserve judgement
- be present and listen
- be effective, be mindful of how we communicate and do it with passion
- express emotion to align and influence others
Get to know yourself
Keeping tabs on your own development might help figure out areas for improvement, deepen your understanding of your industry and set a good example to the people you manage.
Here are some questions to ask yourself. If you answer Yes, reflect on when you executed each of the leadership behaviours or traits. If you answered No, consider how you will improve your skills until they are embedded into your leadership style.
- Do I hold myself accountable before holding anyone else accountable?
- Do I always treat my team and others respectfully?
- Do I help my team and others to win and learn new skills?
- Do I show empathy and compassion to others?
- Do I listen to different views from my staff and take the views into account when making important decisions that will affect them?
- Do I usually focus more on ‘people’ and not just talk about ‘numbers’?
- Do I give credit to those I work with once they do a good job?
- Do I bring up and engage in a difficult subject or conversation?
- Do I plan, strategise and make decisions that build a team and not an individual?
- Do I stay calm and control my emotional outbreaks in all situations?
“Before you are a Leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” - Jack Welch
Get to know your Team
Now that you know a little more about yourself you can now turn your attention to your team. What legacy do I want to leave behind? This question alone will assist in determining your daily approach to your team and working towards that end goal.
While good Leaders may voice a solution when a problem arises, great Leaders ask their teams how to solve it. By framing a problem around suitable questions, your team will discover the right answers on its own terms, rather than simply being told. This fosters ownership, autonomy, and feelings of success – all crucial ingredients toward a healthy and productive team.
When it comes to asking questions, great leaders focus their questions on four important objectives:
- Becoming the best person and Leader they can be.
- Championing the purpose, mission, and vision
- Helping team members become the best people and Leaders they can be.
- Guiding their team members to carry out the purpose, mission, and vision with excellence.
Here are seven surprising questions I have used in the past , and the more I ask them, the better both the team and I become.
- How Am I Doing?
Team members follow and respond well to a self-confidence, self-assured leader. But a self-centered leader? Not so much. True leadership is about inspiring and equipping team members to accomplish the purpose, mission, and vision of the organisation, which means the best leaders want to know if their team members see them as self-confident and self-assured, or just self-centered. They’re willing to risk asking this surprising question in order to gain honest feedback from their team.
- Do You Have Everything You Need?
You want to empower and equip your employees to go out and execute to the best of their abilities at all times. Asking your employees regularly about their needs will help you discover any hidden inefficiencies or dependencies that might be preventing your employees from performing at an optimal level.
- What’s the dumbest thing we do?
Asking employees which aspects of your business can be improved upon accomplishes two crucial things: You get free and immediate feedback from the people who know you best, and employees know that you value their opinions.
- What are people concerned about, but no one says?
This question really surprises team members, yet it’s one of the best questions a leader can ask. When great leaders ask it, they listen closely and respond carefully because they know the wrong response means they will never receive a truthful answer again. They also realize the responses they receive will be more valuable than any other, so they ready themselves to listen no matter how hard the information is to hear
- Is there anything I can help you with?
You can spin the question in a more specific way, to guide them toward answers:
Perhaps you know that your employee is having problems at home. “How’s your family doing? Is there anything I can help you with?”
Or, they had car problems recently. “Did you have some problems with your car? Is there anything I can help you with?”
You’re more than just a company-minded manager. You’re available to improve their work/life balance.
- What’s Keeping You Up at Night?
This question can be incredibly eye-opening. You get to hear about stress at work or home, which affects the employee’s productivity and performance. You can then work with the employee to figure out how to address the situation.
- Are You Having Fun?
In order to be successful, employees need to be passionate and engaged. It’s important to me that everyone at my company is excited about what we do and enjoys being a part of our team.
Being an effective leader is about understanding. You won’t understand unless you listen. The best information to listen to is answers to the right questions.
Questions are one of the manager’s most powerful tools. Knowing how to wield them with precision is your key to becoming a better leader.
Brad Pense | Managing Director
References: Article from Entrepreneur, Forbes and Hubspot