As leaders, we often want to "lead by example" through our actions and solutions to solving problems. However sometimes, it's good to take a step back and ask your team to do the problem solving, even when they're at a standstill. Your team members are the people dealing with the day-to-day issues, and most likely know the answer, they just need some guidance in getting there.
Asking the right questions can be a more powerful way to lead over simply providing answers. The moment you start asking questions is the moment you reveal what you don't know. It's humbling and will put some of your team members at ease.
Here are 5 questions great leaders ask their team:
1. What does success look like?
This may seem like an obvious and simple question, but if team members are struggling with a solution they may have different ideas of the end goal. Use this question to clarify and align efforts.
2. What’s working?
There’s no need to start from scratch. Use this question to grasp what’s going well for the team and build on those strengths.
3. What’s holding us back?
Teams are often frustrated when there are obstacles getting in the way of doing an excellent job. There may be things you can easily fix, and as a leader, it’s your responsibility to remove the obstacles and ensure the team can perform at their best.
4. What if this set back is actually an opportunity?
There may not be a tangible obstacle in the way, a setback can be anything. Perhaps your team went over on the budget, or a new program missed it’s launch date. The setback represents a change—something happened that changed the expected outcome. Search for patterns and opportunities to improve.
5. What can I do differently?
Use this session as an opportunity to build trust. Listen intently and open yourself up to learn about your leadership style. It’s also a good time to ask the team what you can do to help the situation. You are letting them know you are interested and opening the doors for an employee to give feedback that may have gone unsaid.
Asking the right leading questions will empower your team to discover solutions on their own. This fosters ownership and feelings of success – all ingredients to keeping your employees engaged with their work.