This is part 2 of 2 on a series regarding the the power of asking the right questions. During the last blog we looked at how the questions a leader asks will indicate what they really care about. Recently Andy Stanley discussed six questions every leader should be asking. I’ve expanded on each of his questions by sharing my own thoughts. Below are the questions he discusses and the full podcast can be found here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/andy-stanley-leadership-podcast/id290055666
1. Which gauges should we be watching.
At a glance gauges are critical to efficiently measuring the success of initiatives. Your mission and vision should help narrow those numbers you’ll want to be monitoring. As a business expands, changes billing arrangements and increases client retention the numbers that actually indicate the health of your organization will change. Everyone may be tempted to stick to simply financial indicators, but each organization should seek to identify specific KPI’s tied to their vision. For example, if you are a business that hires young talent and raises them up to be leaders, you may want to measure your mentor to student relationship. Or if you are an organization that focuses on customer relationships, you may wish to measure the monthly recur revenue for a customer over a multi-year period.
2. Where are we manufacturing energy?
Is there an area of your business where you have to pretend a little bit? An area that use to generate results and excitement but now requires you to manufacture energy just to keep going? This question is powerful particularly in an industry like technology. So quickly tools and systems become outdated that we may find ourselves riding a sinking ship if we hold on to areas that are sucking energy rather than producing results.
3. Who needs to be sitting at the table?
An org chart is a great for pay structure, management promotion paths and leadership meetings, but often for a job to get done right, this question must be asked outside of the org chart. Instead of thinking who has the power to make the decision, ask yourself who’s input you need to make the best decision possible. Then cut through the red tape and invite those into the discussion. You’ll find that your team is empowered, appreciative and most importantly, your decision making will improve.
4. Who’s not keeping up?
Everyone hates this question…it’s painful. In the life of CS, we’ve seen our agency go through seasons where we hit a new gear and stepped up the pace. Sometimes these seasons of increased intensity or simply a short sprint…other times they are a new standard for the organization. There’s nothing more frustrating when you are on the highway driving 70mph and finding someone driving 45mph in the fast lane. Business is the same…chances are the person going 45mpg knows they aren’t keeping up and ultimately is feeling stressed by everyone moving so quickly around them. Honor both them and your business and ask this question.
5. Where do I make the greatest contribution?
As leaders, many times we are tempted to do a little bit of everything with no specific speciality. It’s funny, because in our organizations, we hire team members with specialized skills to complete a job with a high degree of value and quality. However, when it comes to our roles, we may miss asking ourselves what we do best and what we do that adds the most value. As leaders we too have a unique specialized skill set. Focus on those and add the most value. Then hire or empower others around you to fill in the gaps.
6. What should I stop doing?
Peter Drucker once said, “the first step in a growth policy is not to decide where and how to grow. It is to decide what to abandon. In order to grow, a business must have a systematic policy to get rid of the outgrown, the obsolete and the unproductive.” If you’re finding yourself struggling with delivery on a service line, chances are you are spread too thin. If you find yourself working 24/7, you need to abandon something. This ultimately will lead back into the other five previous questions.
These questions are great mantra’s to ask every month. I’ve been asking myself these now for some time and have already found myself delegating stronger, asking better questions and eliminating the clutter of busy work. Try for yourself!