Want to Be a Better Leader at Work? Ask Your Team
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In case you didn’t get the memo yet, leadership is no longer about your position. Leadership is about your ability to serve. Whether your ultimate goal is to reach more customers or become known as the most innovative company in the world, your success as a leader depends on a team. So how are you serving your employees?
Are Your Actions Aligned With Your Vision?
Regardless of your role, every day when you show up for work, you have one thing in common with all employees: working towards your company vision. Like John C. Maxwell once said, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”
As a leader, sometimes your presence and behavior are counterproductive to the company vision. From the energy people feel you bring into the room to the quality of resources employees have on hand to do their job — it can affect an employee’s ability to work towards achieving the company vision.
Regularly asking your team for feedback allows you to strengthen your presence as a leader, develop a strong team, improve processes, products, and services, and ultimately foster innovation and creativity.
Here are seven insightful questions to ask your team:
By this time next year, what new skill do you want to have learned?
Most employees want to grow in their roles, and your job is to help them get there. Asking questions about their goals and areas for growth helps employees feel like you care about their future. Plus it sends the signal, that you see them as an individual member of a team.
Long gone are the days when an annual review is the first time you give and receive feedback. Make it a habit to speak with your team members in a group as well as individually.
Looking back, what could’ve gone better?
At some point as a leader, you’ll need to step away from the day-to-day operations so you can focus on long-term goals, which is critical for growing the business. The good news is your employees are your best source for improving your customer experience, processes, and products.
Asking this type of question encourages your team to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work — especially after a challenging work week. It also creates a culture of feedback and a safe zone for speaking up.
What process can be fixed or improved?
When it comes to being of service to your employees, your job is to figure out what holds them back from doing their best work. What’s preventing them from providing a seamless customer experience? From figuring out what’s causing team frustration or delays to finding resources to streamline their processes, and minimize distractions, how can you remove friction from the customer journey?
This type of question also gives you an opportunity to remind the team that every task relates back to organizational values or principles.
What do you spend a lot of time doing that has the least impact on our goals?
One of the best ways to get employees excited about the company’s direction is to encourage them to join you in completing the mission. However sometimes there’s a disconnect between what we do, what we’re capable of doing, and where we want to be in the future. Seek employee feedback to foster a sense of ownership and connect the dots to what matters most.
Give me an example of when and how I could have better supported you?
Leadership doesn’t happen without trust and vulnerability. The best way to achieve trust is to be open to feedback and criticism. Look at vulnerability, not as a weakness, but as an opportunity to develop strong team relationships.
What would you like me to do more or less of?
Do you have a micromanager or hands-off leadership style? Stepping into leadership means adapting your preferred style to meet the individual needs of your team. This type of question may help you better understand how you’re perceived and what individual team members need to feel supported.
What do you need help with right now?
As a leader, you set the tone for your team. Let employees know, “It’s okay if you need help.” Not delegating and thinking you have to know and do everything is a common pitfall — especially for managers. This question also implies that you understand they can’t accomplish their goals alone. Taking on too many responsibilities is not only a recipe for burnout; it’s a path to delivering poor quality.
Who did something — big or small — that made you feel good this week?
From recognizing small acts of kindness to major team milestones, this type of question helps you promote a positive and healthy workplace culture. It also helps team members show appreciation to one another.
Whether you have a weekly staff meeting or virtual monthly meet up, a true leader creates an opportunity to listen, learn, and serve their people.