12 Neglected Questions Successful Leaders Keep Asking

Wrong questions turn people’s attention to distracting issues. You hinder progress when you distract your team.

Distractions cause damage.

questions explain what matters

Questions establish focus.

Wrong questions:

  1. Don’t ask about details when dreams are forming. Details kill dreams.
  2. Don’t ask about dreams when it’s time to execute.
  3. Don’t ask “why” when reasons for failure aren’t acceptable.

Questions are statements.

Right people:

Right answers require the right people.

  1. Ask critics about their values and assumptions.
  2. Ask front line people to explain what it takes to get things done, not upper management.
  3. Ask committed teammates how you might move forward.

12 neglected questions successful leaders keep asking:

  1. Who are you/we becoming? “Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do.” Frances Hesselbein
  2. If things continue as they are, will you be happy with where you end up?
  3. What’s best for my team? (Try inserting customers, employees, leaders into the question.) Rise above “what’s best for me” thinking.
  4. What tough decisions would a new leader make? Defending past decisions keeps you doing wrong things.
  5. What are you trying to accomplish? The capacity to keep struggling, after losing sight of what you’re trying to accomplish, is astonishing and tragic.
  6. What’s working?
  7. Where are we winning? (Try inserting “how” in place of “where”.)
  8. What do you need to stop? It takes more courage to stop something old than to start something new. Over-commitment and distraction are the result of starting new things without stopping old.
  9. What’s giving you energy? (Alternative: Where is the energy in our organization?)
  10. How are you getting where you want to go?
  11. Who are you serving?
  12. What do the people you serve value?

Questions explain what matters. Wrong questions are distractions.

Project: Set aside a morning to only ask questions.

How might leaders distract teams?

What questions help organizations/individuals focus on what matters?

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