Questions all leaders should ask themselves

Find time to explore and encourage your people to document their professional goals, and then find ways to align the work they do on your team toward their achievement of those goals

There are many ways to determine how good of a job you are doing as a leader. One of my favorite ways is to evaluate the growth of team members. When the growth of a team member slows down, it means the leader or employee has lost their focus on the importance of personal development. This is important to note, because a team that continuously develops not only lasts, they also do great things together.

This got me thinking: What are some other questions that all leaders should be asking themselves monthly, regardless of their experience level? Here are seven questions all leaders should ask themselves at least every 30 days.

1. Did you say “thank you”?
This should be the easiest question to answer. A leader of mine would write a handwritten note to every employee in the company on their work anniversary, just to say thank you. A simple “thank you” in a handwritten note, email, text or, better yet, in person goes a long way. How far? I still remember it and am writing about it to encourage you to do the same.

2. Did you give your team valuable learning material?
Most likely you are in a leadership role because you are a lifelong learner. You were a sponge earlier in your career, and now you continue to consume content that improves you as a person. Are you sending your team blogs, podcasts, videos, books and ideas that will help them grow?

3. Did you change your mind because of a team member’s opinion?
If you can’t put your finger on the last time you changed your mind because of a team member's perspective or opinion, it’s a real problem. It means one of two things: Your team members aren’t engaged enough in their job to come up with new ideas, or you aren’t doing a good enough job asking for their opinion and listening.

4. Did someone proactively ask for more responsibility – or just do it without asking?
No team can reach its full potential without individual team members being proactive and seeking more responsibility. When this isn’t happening, it’s often caused by a manager who tends to micromanage and assume their team can’t complete tasks as well as they can.

On the flip side, if a team member does this, they feel comfortable approaching you and are confident you're going to be open to it. This is a true sign of growth for both the leader and the employee.

5. Did you say “great job”?
When you say “great job” to a team member, it typically is tied to results or some kind of behavior that produced those results. If you are saying “great job” more often, your team will gain confidence and look to replicate those results over and over again.

6. Did you talk with team members about their goals or their progress toward those goals?
One of the most important things you can learn about your people is what their professional goals are. While this might seem counterintuitive, leaders who know this can look to ensure they provide opportunities and support to make these goals become a reality someday. Find time to explore and encourage your people to document their professional goals, and then find ways to align the work they do on your team toward their achievement of those goals.

7. Did you laugh with your team?
The most underrated, but arguably the most important, characteristic of a being a great leader in today’s work environment is being able to have fun at work. This can’t be faked or manufactured, but it’s a great question to ask yourself, as it might shed some light on the need to bring the laughter out of your team and foster a joyful environment.

My hope is that these seven simple questions will have you evaluating the basics of leadership. If you don’t like the answers you came up with to these questions, just remember, leadership is a journey and not a destination. Be better tomorrow!

 

John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company whose mission is to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. He is a speaker, host of the “Follow My Lead” podcast, and author of F.M.L.: Standing Out & Being a Leader and the upcoming book The Welder Leader. For more, visit learnloft.com.

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