Nine Questions Every Leader Should Ask
Written by AmyK Hutchens
People often say they just need the better answer to move ahead of their competitors in business. What they really need is the better question. Why? The brain triggers on questions, and when you ask your brain a really great question, only then do you get the really great answer. There are nine questions that leaders and entrepreneurs should ask themselves if they not only want to survive but thrive! The secret in finding the great solution lies in the power of the questions you ask. Have you ever had one of those times when you’re stuck, and you just can’t seem to find a way out? The only way out is to ask better questions. For example, when you say, “Sales are down,” most people run around shouting, “Why are our sales down? What are we going to do about this?” These are NOT helpful questions.
The more powerful questions are:
1. What are our customers resisting?
2. What are our customers attached to?
3. What are our customers judging?
When you know the answers to these three questions, then you can answer why your sales are down and what to do about it. Here are several better business questions that require some mental heavy lifting, in other words, some higher level thinking that will improve your business results.
Question #4: How do you define a great client relationship? How can you replicate great clients if you don’t know how to define them? Too many sales people chase after the ill-defined “great catch” only to spend way too much time reeling in the wrong thing! Once you’ve defined your ideal client, you can more readily find it, and bring it on board!
Question #5: How do you create a healthy company culture? The economy doesn’t determine or even shape a company’s culture…unless the leaders let it. When do most leaders deal with culture? When it’s bad. Take control, now….define the vision you want to create, then purposefully guide the culture you are creating on a continual and consistent basis.
Question #6: How do you define great performance and productivity? Just because you give someone a job description and a paycheck doesn’t mean you have set them up to be a stellar performer. What objectives do they need to specifically achieve? By when? When you turn Job descriptions into Position Performance Profiles with 30, 60, 90, 180 (etc.) day objectives, you set people up to succeed.
Question #7: How do you define great leadership? Too many people hire on skill and fire on trait. Just because someone was a great achiever in the I.T. department or was great with a spreadsheet doesn’t mean they have the skills to lead others. Leadership has its own set of skills. If you’re hiring managers, or even promoting from within, make sure your people are properly trained in leadership skills. The best players don’t always make the best coaches.
Question #8: What makes for a great team? Ever work on a dysfunctional team?! Understanding the roles/contributions of each person on the team is invaluable. Additionally, high functioning teams need clear objectives, a defined purpose for getting together and healthy communication and conflict resolution tools. And these ingredients are just for starters!
Question #9: Who influences the influencer? Great leaders cannot lead in isolation. What are you reading? Who are you listening to? Who is listening to you? If you want to be an effective leader you need a sounding board, another brilliant brain on your side. Whether you hire a coach, join a peer group that serves as your think tank, or simply participate in on-going leadership events, you need to expose yourself to innovative and strategic thinking that challenges you, validates when you’re on the right track and steers you back on course when necessary! Is your brain buzzing? That’s the point of these questions – to ignite your own brilliance!
About the Author: With presentations to 30,000+ executives in eight countries, AmyK Hutchens serves as an Intelligence Activist and business strategist to leaders around the globe. She is a former senior EVP of Operations for a leading sales and marketing firm, Director of Education for Europe and Australia for a 900 million dollar consumer products company, and chosen member of National Geographic's Educator Advisory Committee. To learn more about her firm’s proprietary Leadership Links program please visit www.amyk.com. Follow AmyK on Twitter @AmyKinc or visit at www.amyk.com. http://www.amyk.com.