Leadership

3 Questions Real Leaders Aren't Afraid to Ask Themselves

Guest Writer
Former Journalist, Current PR Guy (wielding an MBA)
3 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many leaders believe they know everything. They demand respect, micro manage their teams and bark out orders.

Such individuals are not great leaders. The best leaders earn respect, empower their teams to act and ask questions.

In fact, asking questions is one of the most effective tools a leader can use to learn, understand and clarify an organization's objectives, strategies and tactics.

There's a reason why the Socratic Method of teaching endures today as one of the most effective models of knowledge sharing and it has direct application for leaders as well.  

1. Who am I?

Despite the financial mess enveloping  Greece currently, Western thought is indebted to the Greek tradition for the axiom "know thyself." Regrettably, too few leaders know who they are at their core, what they fear or what motivates them. Money, success and power are external results for keeping score, not internal drivers as to why you're playing the game in the first place.

If you don't know who you are as a person and a leader, you're going to be less effective in both areas.

Related: 10 Qualities Every Leader of The Future Needs to Have

2. How do my people see me?

Even if a leader knows who they are and what they're about, that doesn't automatically cascade to their teams and people.

It's human nature for individuals to think that others have the same perceptions of us as we do. That's obviously not the case for any of us -- including leaders -- yet many in supervisory roles look right past that obvious observation.

Leaders tend to think that they "must" be doing things right, including managing people, given their track record of promotion and advancement, but that's lazy leadership. The best leaders ask this question of their own peers and their own subordinates to get closer to the truth of how they come across and how they're perceived.  

To effectively do that requires a leader to be intellectually honest, with themselves and down line, about their blind spots, personality quirks and management gaps. Not all leaders are capable of that level of transparency.

Related: Being Boss Means Being Able to See Yourself as Others See You

3. What do my people really need from me?

The previous two questions are prelude to this one that gets to the issue of empowering your team to accomplish results.

The majority of leaders have a good understanding of what their organization or business needs to advance, but those needs aren't always aligned with the needs of the employees who are actually doing the advancing.

The best leaders dig into their teams so they can get more from their best performers and the most from under performers. The only way to begin that critical exercise is with a single question, "What do my people really need from me?"

Asking questions might not solve every problem but asking questions is the only way to drive new solutions.

Related: The 5 Traits in Addition to Talent You Need to Watch for When Building Your Team

More from Entrepreneur

Elizabeth's expertise can help you scale your business, build a personal brand and focus on being a value-driven CEO.
Book Your Session

For a limited time only, get this bundle of Entrepreneur PressĀ® titles for less than $30 (60% OFF) on our bookstore when you use "LEAP" at checkout.
Buy Now

Are paying too much for business insurance? Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.
Get Your Quote Now

Latest on Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.