Any leader who has been around for a while will know he doesn’t have all the answers. Far from it. This is why great leaders surround themselves with people who have expertise in areas they lack.
But what happens to a leader as he rises through the ranks? He may lose touch with the notion he needs to continually learn. Or he may believe there’s no one else he can learn from.
This would be an unfortunate thought. There are plenty of ways to continue to grow yourself and your leadership ability. One of those is through asking great questions.
The Answer Is Through The Question
Do you remember when you were a child? You went around and asked everyone you met various questions. You may have asked:
- What’s your favorite color?
- Why’d you do that?
- Who are you?
- Where are you going?
- What’s for dinner?
- Does Billy know you’re doing that?
- What does that button do?
- How can I have a cookie?
Children are a hotbed for asking questions. They have no fear. They have no doubt that their questions will be answered.
As we age, we tend to leave the questioning behind. We begin to shelter ourselves from the danger of asking questions.
Maybe we stop asking questions because we’re fearful of rejection. We may stop asking questions because we fear to look stupid. Or we might stop asking questions because we lose our curiosity.
Losing your ability to ask questions will hinder you. You will stop learning and growing. You will become stagnant.
This is why I like to have a handy arsenal of questions available when I meet new people and, especially, new leaders.
Ask These Questions
Whenever a new leader enters my life, I love to think about the insights he could share with me. What could he tell me about leading a team that doesn’t get along? How do you continue to rise up through an organization? Why do people react the way they do?
Yet these aren’t the first two questions I tend to ask other leaders. Instead, I have two ready-to-fire questions on hand. These questions are:
1. What are you currently learning?
The world is an ever-growing ball of knowledge. There are new discoveries made every single day. There are so many new things to learn that it is impossible to know what to study.
BUT there’s also many leaders out there who are constantly studying and growing their wisdom. They are seeing new trends and happenings. And you and I can use this to increase our knowledge.
By asking other leaders what they’re learning, you see what’s important to those around you. You are also exposed to new ideas and insights you may have missed.
Asking what another leader is learning will help you know what to begin to study.
2. Can you share a failure and how you learned from the failure?
Everyone will fail at some point. Hopefully, they learn something from their failure.
However, what if you could avoid failing like another leader? Would you be willing to avoid the pain and struggle they faced?
You can. It’s through the question of “What failure have you experienced and what did you learn from it?”
You’re not going for the down and dirty details. No, you’re going for examples of what to look out for and what can be learned from failing in a specific area.
Be willing to ask this tough question. It’ll open your eyes and save you from a lot of trouble.