We all know that the mark of a good leader is one who listens. In my work as a life coach and coach to professional Olympic Athletes, listening well is the way to diagnose the issues that need to be addressed. One way to make sure you are listening well is to become a ‘Questioning Leader’. A great leader asks questions that motivate the open discussion of their employees.
Employees that don’t feel supported will spend most of their time protecting themselves rather than doing their tasks and moving the team forward. To help your group move in the same direction the question to ask is, “Do you have everything you need to succeed?”
As a leader you want to provide the tools for your team to do their jobs well. It’s a trap to do their jobs for them. So take a step back and invite the discussion – what tools are necessary for success and do you have them? Be prepared for their answers and be ready to equip your team with what they feel they need to be successful.
Another trap that many leaders fall into is the desire to know everything and have all the answers. Of course, when it is your project, you want to be aware of everything going on but you might not have the expertise in every area. Make sure you surround yourself with individuals who have a lot to offer and then ask the question, “Who has a better idea?”
Listening to the ideas of others and getting their contributions early on will inspire individuals’ investment in the project. If you hear them referring to something as ‘your project’ rather than ‘our project’ you know you need to invite the ideas of your team for ultimate success.
When you see a team member falling behind put yourself in the shoes of the individual – what is going on in their personal life? What dynamics are at play with this person and the rest of the team? Do they want more to do or are they feeling overwhelmed and need something taken off their plate? The only way to know what is really going on is to ask the question, “Is everything OK?” Reassure your team member that you want to help make them great and their needs are important to you and to the team.
Listening to your team is important to your success as a leader, and the only way to get in touch with their needs is to not only be ready to listen, but ask questions that help them feel safe and appreciated.