Great leaders are needed more than ever, both in business and the world.
Becoming a great leader isn’t easy, but by turning to examples of great leadership, we can become better leaders ourselves. What do successful leaders do? What do they think? Answering these questions can help inform our own decisions.
But because leadership ability comes mostly from experience, it’s even more important to know what kind of questions other leaders ask themselves. If we can glimpse into their thought process, we can gain surprising and valuable insights.
Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.
– Tony Robbins (read more Tony Robbins quotes)
So, what kinds of questions do great leaders ask themselves? Here are five of them:
1. Is this the best use of my time?
As a leader, the most important job you have is to set the example. You need to consistently perform at your best so that you motivate and inspire others to do better.
It’s hard to do that consistently, so by asking yourself, “Is this the best use of my time?”, you’re able to keep your actions aligned with your priorities more often. I’ve found this one question to so important that I keep it at the very top of the daily list I use to organize myself each day.
2. How can I learn from this?
Progress, both in the growth and performance of your team, is the marker of great leadership. However, you can’t just bang your head against a wall and expect to knock it down. To make real progress, you need to consistently ask yourself, “How can I learn from this?” so that you’re able to learn from your mistakes and do better moving forward.
There’s a lesson to be learned in virtually every human experience, so no matter whether it’s a failed product launch, PR mishap, or you just didn’t hit your goals, seek to learn from the situation so you can come back smarter and more successful next time.
3. Am I helping make others better or holding them back?
Leadership is all about making others better. If you can learn how to develop people, you’re on your way to being a great leader.
According to Craig Ross, CEO of Verus Global, who has trained top leaders from companies such as Nestlé and Ford, “Our challenge must be to activate others, not constrain or limit them.”
Ross says a question we should all ask ourselves is:
When people walk away from me, is potential activated?
4. Am I doing the right thing?
As a leader, you have a lot to do. Because of this, it can be easy to get swept up in the wrong things and forget why you’re doing what you’re doing and what’s best when considering the big picture.
According to Angie Gels, VP of human resources at The Nielsen Company, “At times, it’s easy to let office politics or a strong personality sway decisions, so I have to ask myself, ‘Am I doing the right thing for the right reason?’”
As a leader, you’re in charge of making the big decisions, such as deciding to hire, fire, or restructure a team. These are decisions that will have a lasting effect on the organization as a whole and you need to be thinking clearly in order to make a sound one.
While leadership isn’t to be misunderstood as management, it’s still critical for a leader to be there for his or her team.
By spending time with your team, you’re able to give them the support they need to grow. In addition, you’re able to learn who they are as people, and find out what motivates them.
According to Kevin Arceneaux, RVP for the Pacific Coast Region for Nabisco Brand of Mondelēz, International, “There is no substitute for spending time with people if you are interested in developing them, you can never spend too much time with your team.”
I have always felt a leader should be present with his team—not only in meetings, but on their turf, watching them do what they do, observing and asking questions.