Essential Questions for Effective Leaders

One of the most difficult career transitions is the move from individual contributor to manager and leader. As an individual contributor, you are recognized and rewarded on the merits of your work. As a manager and leader, your team is your focus. Getting work done through them – not in spite of them – is your challenge.
Here are a few questions that are crucial for all leaders to consider:

  1. How do I define leadership success for me? Despite decades of research and writing, there is no agreed upon definition for leadership. There are many leadership practices that are useful. From authentic leadership to servant leadership, everyone can improve his or her leadership. However, these are other people’s definitions. What is leadership success for you based on your strengths and who you are? Take time to define it and then act accordingly.
  2. What impact do I want to make? What legacy do I want to leave? All leadership action leaves an impact, the question for you to consider is what kind of impact you are making. Contrast that to the impact you wish to make. Many leaders we work with are surprised to learn that the behaviors they believed were healthy and positive got minimized by restrictive behaviors. Don’t leave an accidental impact. Be intentional about your leadership legacy. If you want to see how big the gap is between your desired impact and your actual impact, ask us how. There is an assessment to measure that!
  3. How can I increase my asking to telling ratio? Individual contributors are often recognized because they know things and do things. Shifting into management and leadership, the focus is less on what you know and all about how you work with those around you. As a leader, you don’t need to have all the answers. The reality is that your organization is much more successful when you are honest about what you don’t know and are open to finding a solution with your team.  Questions help you uncover the challenges you’re facing and generate better solutions to solve those problems.  Questions grow people. You will increase the capacity and potential in those you lead by asking questions that help them discover growth insights. Catalytic questions are useful leadership tools.
  4. What is my greatest fear? Organizations can only rise to the level of their leader’s fears. Are there fears you need to deal with that are holding your organization back or preventing your people from doing their best work? You do not have to figure this out on your own. Once you identify what you fear, what you’re avoiding or what you are feeling overwhelmed by, seek wise counsel. Join a peer group, lean on other leaders in your organization or get a coach.

Use these questions to evaluate your leadership effectiveness. The first question creates a benchmark. The second question delivers a measurement. The final two questions are part of a leadership reflection routine.

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