How do you go about becoming a better leader?
For many, if they’re honest, the answer to that question would be they ‘wing it’.
It just happens.
The problem is, it doesn’t ‘just happen’.
Growth in leadership takes intentionality. It take effort and hard work.
When your leadership growth is haphazard, the net result is haphazard leadership. The reason being, your capacity to lead is directly related to your capacity to grow.
When you stop growing, your leadership potential is stifled.
This doesn’t have to be the case.
There are countless books, podcasts, and conferences that can help keep you growing and expanding as a leader. But another great way to grow is to ask other leaders meaningful questions.
It may sound simple, but asking questions, and actually listening to the answers, can radically change the way you lead. If you’re mindful you’ll soon discover leaders all around you that you can learn from. It doesn’t matter if they’re “better” than you, or “worse”. It doesn’t even matter if they have a huge amount of influence, or not.
What matters is your ability to engage in the act of listening and learning.
From a great leader, you can learn what to do. From a “bad” leader, you can learn what not to do.
So, where do you begin?
Start by deciding to be intentional. Always be on the look-out for leaders you can interact with, then start asking questions.
Depending on the person you would like to converse with, you may not have the opportunity to have a face to face conversation without an appointment, so make an appointment. Be pro-active. Otherwise, ask one or two meaningful questions every time you have a chance, without being too intense.
Do what you need to do to have the conversations you need to have, and to ask the questions you need to ask.
Having said that, don’t limit your meaningful questions to the A-list leaders in your world. Ask meaningful questions of all the leaders you know and you’ll soon see the difference it will make to your own leadership.
If you’re stuck for what to ask, here’s a list of 24 meaningful questions that are sure to kickstart your own ideas for other questions;
1. Have you always been a leader? Do you think leadership is personality driven? In what ways have you developed and was this intentional?
2. How do you go about learning and growing as a leader? How do you ensure you don’t stagnate?
3. Do you listen to podcasts, read blogs or books? Would you have any speakers, writers, authors or resources that you can recommend?
4. Who is the one person that has had the biggest impact on your leadership over the years? How did they impact your life?
5. What does your daily routine look like? Do you have habits that you are “religious” about?
6. How do you relate to God? Can you tell me about a time when He clearly spoke to you?
7. Do you have a daily habit of ‘quiet time’ and what does that look like?
8. What is the role of prayer in your leadership? How do you approach prayer personally?
9. How do you go about sharing the Gospel? How do you ensure this is a personal priority?
10. What behaviour, or character traits, would you recommend engaging in and developing, in order to ensure a long and successful ministry/career?
11. How many hours do you work in an average week? How do you manage your time with all your various responsibilities? How to you prioritise family/ministry/career?
12. Do you have any specific advice for someone going into a position of authority for the first time?
13. How do you go about making decisions? Do you have any advisors, or do you make decisions on your own? Do you have a process, or is it different each time?
14. How have you handled times of criticism, opposition, or failure? Can you tell me about a time you’ve handled well, and one that you’ve handled not so well?
15. How do you stay motivated and inspired? Are there any tips you can give to help in this area especially over the long haul?
16. Do you have a specific vision you are working towards? What is it and how has it changed over the years?
17. How do you build teams, get people on board and enthusiastic about your vision? Do you set aside specific time to cast the vision, or does this happen along the way?
18. How do you encourage creative thinking and a pro-active mindset in those you lead?
19. How do you ensure a high level of excellence is consistently attained?
20. Where do the best ideas come from for you and your organisation?
21. How do you ensure the message, heart, and culture, is communicated throughout your organisation?
22. How do you go about choosing people to become leaders? What are the core attributes you are looking for?
23. What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing Christian leaders today; in the Church and in the market place?
24. Is there one mistake you see leaders make regularly? What is it?
Before you ask anyone the above questions answer them yourself. That way you’ll actively think through how you currently live and lead. When a leader gives you an answer you’ll already have something to compare it with. You’ll be positioned well to engage in an authentic conversation.
The list is by no means complete. There’s obviously many great questions worth asking. Those listed are intended to get your own imagination going. If you need some more inspiration, I wrote about the importance of asking Jesus style questions, in ‘The Essential Guide to Authentic Conversation‘.