Last week, we had a series of posts about how question-asking is an essential skill for effective leadership (see, here, here, and here). But there's one aspect of asking questions we didn't touch on: using it as a self-diagnostic tool. Your leadership benefits when you're curious about others, but it also benefits when you're curious about yourself. Asking yourself questions has the power to reveal and clarify values and reinforce behavior. It can help you take a more intentional approach to leading by making you more aware of what you're thinking and doing. One question in particular provides a lot of clarity when you find yourself in difficult or confusing leadership situations:
What would a great leader do?
That may seem obvious . . . maybe so obvious it's not even helpful. But this question does four things for you:
- It raises the standard of your leadership above the circumstances of your leadership. Our circumstances tend to drive our emotions. Asking what a great leader would do when faced with the same circumstances we face can help you transcend your emotions and make better decisions.
- It reveals motive. Are you prioritizing those you lead or are you putting yourself first? Asking what a great leader would do can help you recognize if you are underserving your group.
- It exposes weakness. That one simple question surfaces a tension between ideal leadership and the reality of your leadership. None of us is a perfect leader. We all have gaps we need to be aware of. Asking what a great leader would do can help you become aware of those gaps so you can think through ways to work through or around them.
- It inspires you to reach beyond the limits of your personality and style. Great leadership requires pushing against our own limits. Asking what a great leader would do is a first step in that direction.
Don't be afraid to ask, What would a great leader do? Knowing the answer to that question will amp up your leadership effectiveness by improving your response to your circumstances.