The Questions Great Leaders Ask

In a podcast by Andy Stanley, he talked about how important asking questions are to leaders, whether you’re first in line in corporations or leading an evangelical churches in Dubai and all over the world. He says that the kinds of questions we ask, or at least the act of asking questions, reveals what we value, reinforces what we value, and ultimately reinforces a behavior we want repeated.

When asking the right questions, he says that there are six questions that every leader should ask.

Which gauges should we be watching?

Gauges are what tell us about the health of our organization. These are indicators of what needs to be done and what we should be doing next. An organization’s mission and vision should help you identify what these gauges are.

Where are manufacturing energy?

There are cases when a department strategy that used to yield good results becomes tedious to handle. Sometimes, there are areas in our organization we need to evaluate. What do I need for it to improve? Do I need tools for it to generate results that I want? Or do I need to replace it with something more effective?

Who needs  to be sitting at the table?

This is about knowing your team and being able to point out who you can trust with certain tasks. An organization is made up of very talented people who have a different set of skills, there are some who are better at giving ideas while others are better at acting on an idea. If you think you know the best person to approach about something you need done, ignore your org chart and approach that person.

Who’s not keeping up?

It makes us uncomfortable when we see someone who isn’t performing like everyone else. Let’s put it this way, if you see that everyone else can go from 0 to 60 mph especially when working on a very important task, and one of them is stuck at 45 mph and are getting stressed out because they just can’t keep up, ask this question. Look for a way to get him to join the others in the 60 mph lane.

Where do I make the greatest contribution?

 As a leader, we’re often tempted to do everything. Trying to do everything is a toss-up because on one side you actually might be able to help, but on the other, the task might fail miserably. Leaders should ask themselves what they specialize in that can add value to the task on hand. By answering this question leaders are able to make the greatest contribution rather than to involve themselves in tasks that are not for them.

What should I stop doing?

Once leaders know what they are capable of doing, they should also acknowledge that there are simply some things they can’t do and have to leave trusted people to do them. It’s hard to admit that there are areas that we are not very good at, but being a leader means that we are able to decide to stop doing some things if we don’t contribute to it at all.

These are the six questions leader ask, especially when they find themselves leading an orgnisation or a community. But there’s one other question Andy Stanley said that leaders should pause and think about.

What would a great leader do?

He says that this question accomplishes four things:

It raises the standard for our leadership above the circumstances of our leadership

When we decide to do something, there’s always emotion involved. There aren’t a lot of situations when we were very neutral about a situation. But when we ask what a great leader would do, it enables us to take a step back and be objective about the decisions that we make. When there are feelings involved, sometimes we get defensive. And when we get defensive, we quit learning, and when that happens our decisions become off-balanced.

It reveals motive

There are leaders who mask personal ambition with corporate mission and vision. This means that eventually a leader’s personal agenda will run in conflict with the organization’s mission and vision which will eventually create friction between the leader and the community they’re leading.

It reveals weakness

Andy Stanley says that great leaders do not avoid conflict, they should be able to face it. At the same time, leaders shouldn’t want conflict because there is a tendency to use their position to get things done.

It inspires you to reach beyond their personality and style

This simply means that there will be circumstances when leaders will have to step out of their comfort zone and face their insecurity to be able to do what needs to be done.

As a last note, Andy Stanley says that asking what a great leader would do doesn’t just apply to leaders of a community or organization but also for people where they find themselves having authority. For husbands, wives, or older siblings. These questions and nuggets of wisdom can help guide us to become fair leaders to the people we owe our service to.

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