…A Good Leader Explains. A Superior Leader Demonstrates. A Great Leader Inspires others to see for themselves.”
I took the liberty of taking Harvey Mackay’s quote and substituting “leader” for the word “person” in the original quote. It struck me how the meaning remains intact and offers insights into the type of leaders we need to become in today’s business environment.
A question I often ask in my practice is, “Why would someone follow you?” The question is intended to take the definition of effective leadership out of the leader’s perspective to that of the people who would follow them. The answers range from “I don’t know” to full explanations of how desired results were achieved because their teams clearly understood the direction and expectations of the business and were given the resources to succeed as a team. These insightful answers come complete with examples and stories of how leadership played a role in helping the team see themselves as the key to success!
So how do you get from “I don’t know” to telling stories of successful leadership? The secret is how well people are aligned to the Vision, Mission and Strategy of the organization. This implies, of course, the organization has these guiding statements along with a set of shared values that are consistently communicated in a way that everyone understands both the words and the intent. It means I could walk up to anyone in the organization and ask “How does what you do help the organization achieve its Vision and Strategy?” and I would get a clear answer.
These open-ended questions become the leader’s primary communication tool to help their teams understand how they fit into the Strategy. Leaders must be comfortable with asking open-ended questions in every interaction with their teams. Questions beginning with “How” and “What” or even “Why” engage followers to be part of the discussion and see solutions in their own minds.
Another benefit to the leader; the better a leader is at asking open-ended questions, the better listener they become! Open-ended questions typically generate longer and more thoughtful answers so the opportunity to develop better listening skills is a great complement to engaging followers.
People follow leaders with a clear Vision and Strategy for the organization. They follow leaders who engage them physically, intellectually and emotionally to execute the Strategy. As Bruce Jones, a friend of mine recently posted in Facebook, “"The Secret Of Success Is Figuring Out How To Make Other People Successful".
Why would someone follow you?
Thanks for your note! It was great seeing you last week and look forward to our next conversation.
Great question. I make it a habit of asking questions that allows my employees to engage in problem solving.