It may seem like leaders need to have all the answers. Presumably, they became leaders by being smart, hardworking individual contributors who had the answers most of the time. But while knowing what to do is important, great leaders believe that knowing what questions to ask is even more vital. Especially when it comes to leading the team. Asking them the right questions instead of barking out the answers will lead to a higher performing team.
In this article, we’ll outline 5 questions great leaders ask to promote growth, collaboration, and trust within their teams. These questions are not just about directing the team, but also about understanding the team’s strengths, identifying areas for improvement, providing necessary support, and seeking feedback for personal growth. These questions align the team towards common goals, focus on strengths, encourage feedback and improvement, and promote a servant leadership mentality.
Where Are We Going?
The first question great leaders ask is, “Where are we going?” This question helps to identify the projects and progress of the team, providing a clear direction and goals for everyone involved. It’s about understanding the key performance indicators and aligning the team towards a common vision, often referred to as the North Star or Commander’s Intent. This vision serves as a guiding light, ensuring that all team members are moving in the same direction and working towards the same objectives.
By asking this question, leaders can ensure that everyone understands the team’s mission and goals. It promotes transparency and clarity, reducing the chances of confusion or misalignment. It also allows leaders to gauge the team’s understanding of the goals and make necessary adjustments to ensure everyone is on the same page.
What Is Going Well?
The second questions great leaders ask is “What is going well?” This question emphasizes the importance of recognizing achievements and successes within the team. It’s about identifying areas of strength and expertise and encouraging more of what is working well. This approach is more effective than constantly pointing out what’s wrong, as it builds confidence and motivates the team to continue performing at their best.
By focusing on what’s going well, leaders can foster a positive work environment where team members feel valued and appreciated. It also helps leaders understand the team’s strengths better, allowing them to leverage these strengths to achieve team goals more effectively.
Where Can We Improve?
The third question great leaders ask is “Where can we improve?” This is about seeking feedback and identifying areas for improvement as a team. It involves asking the team for their ideas and perspectives, identifying blind spots and weaknesses, and addressing collaboration issues or client problems. This question promotes a culture of continuous improvement, where everyone is encouraged to share their ideas and take ownership of the team’s progress.
By asking this question, leaders can create an open and inclusive environment where everyone’s opinions are valued. It also helps leaders identify areas where they might not have noticed a need for improvement, allowing them to make necessary changes to enhance team performance.
How Can I Help?
The fourth question great leaders ask is “How can I help?” This question emphasizes the role of a leader in providing support and resources to the team. It’s about understanding the leader’s responsibility to assist the team and adopting a servant leadership mentality. This question ensures that the team has what they need to succeed, whether it’s resources, guidance, or moral support.
By asking this question, leaders can show their commitment to the team’s success and their willingness to provide necessary support. It also allows leaders to understand the challenges and obstacles that the team is facing, enabling them to provide appropriate assistance and resources.
Where Do I Need Help?
The final question great leaders ask is “Where do I need help?” This question shifts a leader’s attention toward seeking their own feedback and continuously learning and growing. It’s about recognizing the value of feedback from the team, building trust through open communication, and encouraging personal development and growth. This question shows that great leaders are not afraid to ask for help and are always seeking to improve themselves.
By asking this question, leaders can foster a culture of mutual learning and growth, where everyone, including the leader, is continuously improving. It also helps build trust within the team, as it shows that the leader values the team’s feedback and is willing to learn from them.
These five questions – Where are we going? What is going well? Where can we improve? How can I help? And where do I need help? – are essential tools for great leaders. They promote growth, collaboration, and trust within the team, fostering a positive and productive work environment. By asking these questions regularly, leaders can ensure that their teams are aligned, motivated, and doing their best work ever.
About the author
David Burkus is an organizational psychologist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author of five books on leadership and teamwork.