Leadership coaches spend a lot of time driving home the power of questions. Questions drive innovation and change. Without questions, there is no motivation for leaders to improve their own performance. If you aren’t asking questions of yourself and your team, it will be impossible to make strides. Effective leaders understand that they don’t have all of the answers all of the time. They also know that in order to find the answers they seek, they must be willing to dive deeper and ask even more questions of themselves, of their teams, and of their organization.
In a recent piece for Inc.com entitled, “100 Great Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask,” editor Leigh Buchanan compiled a list of questions gathered from successful business leaders from a variety of backgrounds. The questions are designed to help entrepreneurs take an introspective look at themselves and their companies. They are also questions that require leaders to take steps to improve their own perfomance. According to Buchannan, “The right questions don’t allow people to remain passive. They require reflection, followed by action.”
If you don’t have time to scan the entire list of 100 questions, I’ve pulled 14 that will help get you thinking about how you might become a more effective leader:
- What counts that we are not counting? -Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality and head of global hospitality for Airbnb
- What prevents me from making the changes I know will make me a more effective leader? -Marshall Goldsmith, leadership coach and author
- Did my employees make progress today? -Teresa Amabile, author and Harvard Business School professor
- What do we stand for–and what are we against? -Scott Goodson, co-founder of StrawberryFrog
- Among our stronger employees, how many see themselves at the company in three years? How many would leave for a 10 percent raise from another company? -Jonathan Rosenberg, adviser to Google management
- What did we miss in the interview for the worst hire we ever made? -Alberto Perlman, CEO of Zumba Fitness
- Do we have the right people on the bus? -Jim Collins, author and management consultant
- Am I failing differently each time? -David Kelley, founder, IDEO
- Do you have an implicit bias for capital investments over people investments? -Tom Peters
- What happens at this company when people fail? -Bob Sutton and Jeff Pfeffer, Stanford professors
- Do your employees have the opportunity to do what they do best every day? -Marcus Buckingham, author
- Do you see more potential in people than they do in themselves? -Adam Grant
- Who are four people whose careers I’ve enhanced? -Alex Gorsky, CEO, Johnson & Johnson
- What is your theory of human motivation, and how does your compensation plan fit with that view? -Dan Ariely, professor, Duke University
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Questions like these are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to growth as a leader. Take some time to not only answer these 14 questions, but to reflect up on your answers and to create an action plan for the areas in which you could improve.
You can follow Inc.com’s Leigh Buchanan on Twitter @LeighEBuchanan