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Ask questions: Why is this so important as a leader?

Reading time 7 minutes
Ask questions: Why is this so important as a leader?

Although asking questions is part of every manager's daily work, it is usually not given too much attention. Asking questions is often done in passing. There is no special training that teaches managers the right questioning techniques. This is a pity, because it means that valuable Potential given away. With the help of the right questions, you can help both yourself and the company to greater success. In the following, we would like to show you how this works.

Why do great leaders ask questions?

As mentioned at the beginning, a manager spends most of his day asking questions: You check with your employees to see how their work is progressing, get feedback from the customer, or ask the Team leader for new information regarding a project. Without asking questions, a smooth workflow would not be possible.

As a manager, you can find out how your employees are feeling by asking them the right questions. The latter is important for identifying blockages at an early stage and taking appropriate action. It also contributes to the Motivation of employees if the supervisor is interested in their personal satisfaction.

As you can see, asking questions means much more to a manager than simply gathering information. It is a valuable tool that facilitates everyday work and contributes to greater success.

interesting questions

10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself: Find clarity about your goals as a leader

Asking questions is not only important in relation to employees. There are some questions you should answer for yourself as a leader. Most managers have internalized a stereotypical image that they want to live up to. However, it is much more effective to develop your own leadership identity. The following ten questions can support you in this:

1. where do I come from?

It is essential for qualified managers to deal with their own biography: What experiences have shaped you professionally and privately? What experiences have given rise to your special leadership qualities that make you unique?

2. what motivation drives me?

Have you ever asked yourself what motivates you? Are you looking for recognition, thrills, or do you like to create things? By finding out what drives you, you can direct your leadership skills in the desired direction. In this way, you will succeed in the long term. successful and be satisfied.

3. what values are important to me?

Your personal values play a crucial role in the way you shape your leadership role. They determine which leadership methods you use. A solid value system helps you make the right decisions even in the face of difficult situations.

4. what is my mission?

Almost everyone feels the desire to do something meaningful with their life. This is even more true in a significant leadership position. Therefore, you should ask yourself what your motivation as a leader is: What goal do you want to achieve with your work? There are no wrong answers here.

For example, as a leader in the medical or mental health field, your mission might be to improve the health care system. A leader in the security field may feel a desire to make the city safer.

5. what is my unique selling proposition?

We've already discussed that your personal values can affect your Leadership style ideally shape your image. This means that your values should always be consistent with your external image. At best, your employees can immediately name the qualities that distinguish you as a boss. These include, for example, straightforwardness, honesty, fairness and a special interest in the well-being of your team.

6. in what way can I replenish my energy stores?

Holding a management position goes hand in hand with enormous responsibility. Mental stability is therefore a basic requirement. However, it is not always easy to maintain this stability, especially in times of crisis. For this reason, you should identify your personal sources of strength: Where and with whom can you recharge your batteries when things get stressful at work?

7. why am I qualified for this position?

Successful leaders have a healthy self-confidence without appearing arrogant. You should ask yourself why you are the best person for this leadership position. Be aware of your unique qualities, but also acknowledge your limitations. In this way, you can lead your team to success with confidence and authenticity.

8. which important contacts do I have?

As a manager, you have to interact with people every day. This includes not only your employees and customers, but your private contacts also shape your appearance as a manager. Who are these people? What is your relationship with them? In what way do these interpersonal interactions influence your leadership skills? What do your stakeholders expect from you?

Interesting to know: What employees expect from their managers, also and especially against the backdrop of the corona pandemic, can be read in the following study: https://www.hays.de/personaldienstleistung-aktuell/studie/auswirkungen-der-corona-pandemie-aus-sicht-der-mitarbeitenden

9. what challenges am I responsible for?

You can't find a solution to every problem. So you have to prioritize: Which internal issues are you responsible for and which are not? Where do conflicts of interest arise? Where can you use your resources wisely and in which cases would it be a waste of energy?

10. what are my main roles as a leader?

A manager is much more than just a direct supervisor. In many cases, you are also called upon as a motivator, planner, or sometimes even as a counselor. Be aware of your different roles and decide which of them can be part of your daily work and which you don't want to be forced into.

Why is asking questions an important leadership skill?

Leadership is defined as the ability to positively influence the behavior of employees in order to achieve the desired results. Asking questions is one of the most important and, at the same time, one of the most underestimated leadership skills. This is a psychologically extremely effective leadership tool.

You may have heard of something called mirroring. This is a method psychologists use to help their patients see their personal situation from a different perspective. This is achieved by asking targeted questions. In professional life, this method can be used in the same way. In this case, asking questions is aimed at increasing the employee's motivation.

Of course, asking questions is first and foremost there so that you, as a manager, can get an overview of the current mood of your team as well as the work progress. Without regular inquiries on your part, you are simply not up to date. However, this is necessary in order to be able to initiate measures to increase efficiency if necessary.

It is important here to formulate the questions as concretely as possible.

Example:

  • Instead of, "How's Project X going?"
  • Rather, "Have you completed the cost breakdown on project X yet?"
  • Instead of, "Can you make the deadline?"
  • Lieber: "What specific steps are still missing to complete the project?"
profound questions

Ask questions: 30 examples of how to develop your team

By asking the right questions, you can motivate your team to perform at their best. For example, by finding out which aspects of a project are causing frustration and demotivation, you can take targeted remedial action.

Furthermore, inquiries can bring passive employees into action, as they often only needed an impulse from the outside. Private inquiries are also not taboo to a certain extent. Asking about special leisure activities can reveal talents that can also be used in the professional context.

Below, we've compiled 30 sample questions for positive development of your team:

Ask questions for the one-on-one:

  1. Which tasks do you find particularly easy?
  2. What motivates you?
  3. Which activities do you find time-consuming?
  4. In what ways could your day-to-day workflow be more efficient design?
  5. What activities inspire you in your private life?
  6. What drags you down so that you go home frustrated?
  7. What job would you assign yourself?
  8. What are your goals and how can I support you?
  9. How can we make project X a success?
  10. What decision would you make if you were in charge in case X?

Ask questions in case of conflict:

  1. What happened specifically?
  2. What valid observations have you made?
  3. What exactly annoys you about the current situation?
  4. What do you care about most of all?
  5. How do you interpret the behavior of your colleagues?
  6. Is there a way to interpret the behavior in a different way?
  7. How do you think you are perceived within the team?
  8. Which emotions triggers the conflict?
  9. What do you think a fair decision would look like?
  10. How can I help to defuse the conflict?

Ask questions in the feedback session with the entire team:

  1. In what areas is the project making more progress than we expected?
  2. What surprising obstacles have emerged?
  3. Where could workflows be optimized?
  4. Are there untapped resources and opportunities that you have become aware of?
  5. What mistakes did we make over the course of the past week?
  6. How can we prevent so that the mistakes are not repeated?
  7. What might be our goal for the coming week?
  8. What do you need to achieve this goal?
  9. In what ways can I, as your supervisor, support you in this?
  10. Which blockades still need to be removed?
YouTube video

Ask questions: 5 top questions every great leader asks

As you now know, asking questions is one of the core competencies of a leader. However, it depends on the right questions. We have already familiarized you with some situational examples. Now we'd like to introduce you to the top five questions that every great leader asks. This time, the focus is on maximizing business success:

  1. What unmet needs have our customers expressed and how can we use this knowledge as a basis to create a completely new Business model to design?
  2. In what ways can we leverage third-party resources to better serve our customers' needs?
  3. How can we work out our unique selling proposition so that our products and services stand out from the mass market?
  4. How can we develop more flexible supply networks to better respond to unforeseen disruptions in production or logistics?
  5. What are the technical possibilities to find out how our customers use our products in order to achieve greater added value?

Conclusion: Ask questions for increased employee motivation and greater success

Asking questions is a valuable skill that a successful manager must master. However, the right questioning technique is crucial here. This is the only way to get all the information you need.

Only those who can ask the right questions are able to react to current circumstances in good time and assess the mood within the team. This makes your day-to-day work as a manager much easier.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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