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What is the Most Powerful Leadership Question?

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leadership question, employees hold up question marksAs a leader, you know your team. One of the ways you stay on top of performance is by asking the tough leadership question. But what is that question and is there just one?

Do you have a favorite question that you ask in an interview that will help you uncover important aspects of the candidate? Do you ask those same questions of your team?

Often we are so focused on the work product, where we stand, are we on budget and will it be completed on time. We fail to keep the conversation going with our team. Asking the powerful leadership question will help gauge their levels of motivation, their commitment to the company and their goals for the future.

In an old Forbes article that I recently unearthed, the author, Mike Myatt, talks about the leadership question and shares 50 examples of what they may be. Here are just a few that I thought are telling and which you  may want to use in your next staff meeting:

Are your efforts at work making your family stronger or putting them at risk? How can I help you here?

This question is powerful on so many levels:

  • As a leader, you are showing empathy towards your associate. Not only are you showing that you care, but the follow-up question demonstrates that you want to help if there is a need.
  • This question tells your associate that they are valuable to the company. This is a great motivator and also helps build a culture that is people-focused.
  • By asking this question periodically, you find out about potential challenges before they become problems. For example, the answer could unearth the fact that an associate is dealing with a failing parent, an errant child or a significant financial challenge that, if not addressed, could lead them to poor performance.

“Good leaders ask great questions that inspire others to dream more, think more, learn more, do more, and become more.”
― John C. MaxwellGood Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership

What rules should we be breaking?

This is an amazing leadership question that will encourage associates to think creatively. There is something so “naughty” about breaking rules and when a leader invites that concept, the results may surprise you. If rules are off the table (that includes budget restraints, industry norms, etc.) the suggestions may lead to paradigm-shifting solutions that could take your company to new heights.

Why do people come to work here, and why do they leave?

Do you conduct exit interviews when an employee voluntarily leaves? The Balance Careers website offers several exit interview questions in their article: Sample Exit Interview Questions.  They have this to say:

Exit interviews are a good way for companies to better retain their employees and reduce turnover, thus keeping hiring costs and the resources needed to find great employees low.

However, this question isn’t just important at the beginning and end of an associate’s career with your company; there is also great value in asking this question periodically of your team. What do they see as the reason that people are attracted to work at the company? This is an opinion question and there really isn’t a right or wrong answer. Answers will be based on the perception of your associates and those thoughts are often telling; and worth taking seriously.

As a leader, we must remember to spend as much, if not more time, listening to the challenges and ideas of our team members. What leadership questions have you found most beneficial? Share them over on our FB page. 

To read the entire article by Myatt: 50 Most Powerful Leadership Questions

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