Questions That Sustain Your Leadership
"Judge a person by their questions, rather than their answers." ~ Voltaire
Influencers question assumptions, inquire about the environment around them, and probe into the future. They have an insatiable appetite to learn, and they convert their knowledge to action at light speed.
The Value of Questions
While leaders constantly investigate their surroundings, the most important questions they ask are the ones they pose to themselves. By routinely questioning their goals, motives, and purpose leaders renew their self-identity along with their sense of perspective. Consider the following benefits of examining yourself as a leader.
1) Quality Questions Create a Quality Life
You only get answers to the questions you ask. If you won't dare to wrestle with the tough dilemmas in life, then you'll live small.
2) Focused Questions Stimulates Creative Thinking
A well-considered question penetrates to the heart of the matter and triggers new ideas and insights.
3) Honest Questions Lead to Solid Convictions.
Inquisitiveness clarifies morals and beliefs. Values are shaped when you force yourself to be truthful in answering tough questions about where you stand on key issues.
4) Correct Questions Help Us Find Ourselves and Our Mission.
Tackling life's biggest questions brings direction and meaning to life's journey. Bob Buford captures this thought in his book, The Second Half.
What is your passion? What have you achieved? What have you done uncommonly well? How are you wired? Where do you belong? What are the ‘shoulds' that have trailed you during the first half? These and other questions like them will direct you toward the self your heart longs for; they will help you discover the task for which you were especially made. Throughout your years in leadership, if you know the right questions then you will ultimately gain the right answers.
Questions I Ask Myself as a Leader
1) Am I Investing in Myself?
This question probes your commitment to personal growth. An empty glass won't refresh anyone. Before you can influence others, you need to contain something worth offering to others.
Don't be content to stockpile knowledge. Once you've ascertained a new insight or developed a skill, pass on what you've discovered. A learner builds reservoir of learning, whereas a leader becomes a river of learning for others.
2) Am I Genuinely Interested In Others?
This question delves into motives. As J.P. Morgan cynically observed, "A man always has two reasons for doing anything - a good reason and the real reason." Since leaders are inclined to figure out situations before anyone else, they have capacity to take advantage of others. For this reason, it's essential to regularly question your motives. There's a fine line between manipulation and motivation. The former moves people for personal benefit, while the latter moves people for mutual gain.
3) Am I Doing What I Love and Loving What I Do?
This question determines passion. You will never find your passion doing work you despise. If you go to work only to fulfill processes and functions then you're in jeopardy of losing your humanity and turning into a machine. "Find your passion and follow it," is all the career advice you'll ever need. Passion gives you the edge by endowing you with more energy than others have.
4) Am I Taking Others to a Higher Level?
This question has to do with mission. Regardless of your industry, as a leader, you're in the people development business. Fulfilling your mission depends upon lifting the performance of those you lead. As Zig Ziglar says, "You can get everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want." By adding value to those you lead, you're investing in men and women with the potential to multiply your influence exponentially.
5) Am I Taking Care of Today?
How you treat today speaks volumes about your likelihood of success. In fact, if I spent one day observing your priorities, behaviors, and interactions with people, then, with about 90% accuracy, I could let you know your leadership potential. Why would I be so certain in my judgment? Because I've learned that the secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda.
The great artist, Pablo Picasso, once remarked, "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." I tend to agree, and I think Picasso's observation carries truth for leaders as well. Regardless of your technical skill or relational charm, you'll be inhibited as a leader until you learn the art of asking questions. Knowing how has merit, but influencers will always be the men and women who understand why.
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