Why leaders need the courage to ask great questions

When my client David took on his new leadership role he discovered quite a mess. The leadership team were not clear about the purpose of their group. They were not meeting their promised delivery targets. Everyone turned up late for meetings and they did not do what they promised they would do. No-one seemed to care. It was no surprise that they were at risk of imploding because of their poor performance.

The business had appointed David because of his track record as the ‘turn around guy.’ But he did not claim to have all the answers. Instead, he asked great questions. Why were they not meeting their project delivery targets? How come they designed their systems and processes this way? What was the fundamental purpose of the group? He challenged their assumptions and asked his team to consider another way.

Some people did not welcome his challenge and said, “That’s just the way we do things around here.” He felt isolated by the icy reception they gave him. But he resisted the urge to fit in, knowing that it would not serve his team in the long run.

Leaders like David know that their job is to take people into uncharted waters. That is not something he could do if he accepted the way they do things around here could never change. He would be the first to say it was a team effort to turn the group around. But the team also acknowledges that it took him being willing to ask the hard questions.

In John C. Maxwell’s book, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, he suggests that we only get answers to the questions we ask. So as leaders we need to get better at asking profound questions, at the risk of looking foolish.

🙋 What is a great question you like to ask? 🙋‍♀️

Best regards, Brian