By Michael Holland

The parent tells their kid that as long as they are trying to do their best, that’s what really counts only to berate them when their grades aren’t up to snuff at the end of a semester.  The boss says he believes in a healthy work-life tension and that family is the most important thing in life only to ask you why you didn’t respond to his emails and messages over the last several nights that were sent after 7:00 pm.

Questions can reveal tremendous information in and of themselves.  The questions you ask as a leader can reveal the values you hold, your priorities, and reinforce behaviors which you may or may not like.  But too often leaders reveal the gaps that exist between what the say and what they actual want and do.

Here are 4 questions leaders should be asking themselves.

What would a great leader do in this moment?

Imagine framing your perspective with the lens of what great leaders would do in the situation in which you find yourself.  The standard is raised immediately for the options available, the best actions to pursue, and the right words to use.  Great leaders – who of course don’t think of themselves as great – constantly ask this question to push themselves beyond their limitations, biases and planning assumptions.

What did I do today that 1) enabled my team to be better and 2) held back my team from doing better?

Leaders touch everyone with their actions and in their conversations.  Often, there are unintended consequences from what they do and say.  Great leaders constantly review, assess and learn from what they do and say making adjustments along the way revealing their value of continual learning.

If I could do one thing in the next 10 minutes, what would be the best thing to do?

Time management is critical as a leader.  When a meeting ends early, great leaders seize upon the found sliver of time to invest in getting things done which usually involves building a relationship with an employee.  Your behavior during these slivers of found time reveal your priorities.

Who’s hiding from me?  Who haven’t I met with recently?

While it’s easy to rationalize that an employee is working well on their own, is independent and self-motivated, great leaders know that relationships with all employees need tending.  Sustaining and growing inter-personal relationships with employees earns the leader the right to lead.

Growing your leadership impact requires you to reach beyond the limits of your personality and style.  And it’s in those moments of stretch that you begin to build your leadership muscles.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Think back over the last several conversations you’ve had with employees.  What values do you think you revealed?
  • In each meeting you have over the next 48 hours, write/type the acronym WWAGLD at the top of your notes and have a peer leader do the same.  Grab a cup of coffee together and reflect on the experiment. (WWAGLD = What Would a Great Leader Do)