Friday, July 3, 2015

Powerful questions leaders can ask

I have been reading David Marquet's book "Turn the Ship Around" which is an interesting story of turning followers into leaders aboard the nuclear submarine Sante Fe. In the weeks before he took over as captain, he spent time with the crew asking them questions in order to understand the current state and possible areas for improvement. Here are some of the powerful questions he asked: (some questions modified slightly to reflect organizations instead of nuclear submarines...)

1. What are the things you are hoping I don't change?
2. What are the things you secretly hope I do change?
3. What are the good things we should build on?
4. If you were me, what would you do first?
5. Why aren't we doing better?
6. What are your personal goals in this organization?
7. What impediments do you have that keep you from doing your job?
8. What will be our biggest challenge moving forward?
9. What are your biggest frustrations about how this organization is currently run?
10. What's the best thing I can do for you?

I'm a big fan of powerful questions that help drive empathy and improvement and I think these questions do exactly that. This set reminds me of an earlier list of questions I wrote about to assess your current process. I've used those questions in a few organizations with great results.

Finally, remember that David began asking these questions at the beginning of his assignment, but had the long term goal of creating a leader-leader structure, and not a leader-follower structure. If you want to emulate what he has done, then eventually your whole organization should be asking these questions of each other.

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