The 4 the most important leadership questions

The 4 the most important leadership questions

They are the 4 most important questions every leader must ask, and they are also the process behind every coaching conversation... What are they, and what does coaching have to do with leadership?

The answer is everything... Before you become a leader, your focus is on enabling yourself. The second you become a leader, your focus in on enabling others. A leader's focus is not really that different from a coach, who's focus is also on enabling others.

A leader's role is to help others reach their full potential by facilitating thought and action. A coach's role is also to help others reach their full potential by facilitating thought and action.

A leader is focussed on delivering results for their organisation. A coach is also focussed on delivering results for their organisation (the client).

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between that of a leader and a coach. This might explain why the four most important questions every leader must ask are coaching styled questions, and form the basis for every coaching process.

 

The 4 the most important questions every leader must ask

Now I don't want to over-simplify coaching, as there is much more to it, but every coaching process follows these basic four overriding questions.

  • Why are we here?
  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • How are we going to get there?

Let's look at how they might be applied in a leadership context. I've included some very basic examples of the types of questions that might be asked in order for us to answer these 4 overriding questions.

 

Performance Appraisals

Why are we here? What is the purpose of this performance appraisal and what do we hope to achieve from it? What would a good performance appraisal look like?

Where are we now? How have you been performing? How would you rate your overall performance? Where have you been performing well? Can you give me some examples of where you have been performing well? Where have you not been performing so well? Why do you think you haven't performed so well in these areas?

Where do we want to be? How should you be performing? What does that performance look like? What needs to change in order for you to perform this way? How would you feel if we were performing this way? How would you celebrate if you were able to achieve this level of performance?

How are we going to get there? What do we have to do to move our performance from where it is now to where it should be? How are we going to measure if we have been successful? What actions do we need to put in place?


Project Management

Why are we here? What is the purpose of this project and what are we hoping to achieve from it? What would a good project outcome look like?

Where are we now? Where are we now in the project? Where should we be against the project plan? How have we been managing the project? Where are we facing difficulties in the project? Why are we facing these difficulties?

Where do we want to be? Where should we be in the project? How would we feel if we get the project to where we want it to be? How should we celebrate if get the project to where we want it to be?

How are we going to get there? What do we have to do to move the project from where it is not to where we want it to be? How are we going to measure if we have been successful? What actions do we need to put in place?


Business Planning (Applies to any planning)

Why are we here? What is the purpose of this planning session and what do we hope to achieve from it? What would a good plan look like?

Where are we now? Who are our customers? How do we help our customers? How has our business been performing? What are our Strengths and Weaknesses?Where are the Opportunities and Threats? Who are our competitors? What is our market share?

Where do we want to be? Who do we want to have as customers? How should be helping our customers? How should our business be performing? What needs to change in order for us to be where we want to be? How much market share should we have?

How are we going to get there? How should we position the business? How should we promote the business? How will we grow our market share?


Summary

There's a simple example of how the 4 most important questions every leader must ask can be applied to 3 different scenarios. The questions can also be applied to individual development planning, problem-solving and providing feedback etc.

Great answers will come to those leaders who know how to effectively ask these questions.