Be the leader people want to follow…ask these 6 questions

Real leadership, as you probably know, is not about the title you hold. It’s about being the kind of person who people want to follow. One key ingredient to being that kind of leader is how well you listen to and connect with those around you. Taking the time to ask your team members a few questions, and then listening closely to the answers, is a great way to get started.

Be the leader people want to follow. Ask these 6 questions.

What makes you feel recognized?
I once worked for a well-intentioned leader who thanked our team quarterly by taking us out to expensive, steak dinners. Guess what? Half the team hated steak. Several would have preferred an afternoon off, while a few others really valued personal thank you notes. Whether you use this information immediately or at a later date, it’s invaluable to know what makes those around you feel thanked. Don’t let your efforts go to waste – customize your thank you’s.

What motivates you?
For some, it’s a cool new project. For others, it’s visibility. And for others, it’s a chance to lead a project. There are thousands of variations on what people find motivating – find out what ignites your individual team members – then do you your best to organize the work that way. Most people are reasonable and understand their work tasks cannot always be shifted around. Armed with this information, you have the power to make the changes you can.

What is one thing we could do better around here?
You may have a sense of the changes you want to see take place across your company or department – but what about ideas related to making your customers happier today or increasing the efficiency of a key process? Who better to tell you what to improve than those working on specific tasks and deliverables and those who interact with your customers on a daily basis? All you have to do is ask. As an added bonus, your team members will be pleased to share ideas directly with you.

How are you?
Since this question is often asked in a perfunctory manner, be sure to pause and look the other person in the eye as you ask how he or she is. When used intentionally, this question tells the person you are speaking to that you care about them. You will also gain insight into how the person is feeling and what is going in her or his personal and work life – all of which is very relevant to your team member’s performance.

What can I do for you?
As a leader, one key role you play is to do everything you can to help your team members work as efficiently and effectively as possible. This simple question is a quick way to find out if something is slowing your team down or if they’ve hit any roadblocks. It also communicates to the other person that you are willing to actively support his or her efforts and they are not alone.

What is the most interesting thing you are working on?
It’s likely you have a general sense of what each person on your team is working on. But there’s nothing like having the leader stop by to ask you personally what you are working on that you are excited about. It’s a chance for your team member to showcase something. And if he or she doesn’t have an answer, it may be time to re-look what’s on that team member’s plate.

Cheers to your leadership success!
HR Strategy | Executive Coach | Leadership Development

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