In his book Good Leaders Ask Great Questions
, author and leadership expert John Maxwell writes that questions are the foundation of both learning and leadership.
Maxwell suggests that, as a leader, you can wait for others to ask you the “hard and important” questions, or you can take responsibility and proactively ask them of yourself.
He developed the following list of questions, and suggests that reflecting on the answers can help you to maintain your integrity, increase your energy, and improve your leadership capacity:
Am I investing in myself?
For Maxwell, the most important investment you will make is in yourself, because that will determine what you get out of life. There are 3 factors that determine whether and how you will invest in yourself:
- Your self-image – how you see yourself
- Your dream – how you see your future
- Your friends – how others see you
Am I genuinely interested in others?
Motivations matter. Maxwell references the adage that people have two reasons for doing anything – a good reason and the real reason. He writes that, to be a good leader when dealing with people, the good reason has to be the same as the real reason.
Am I grounded as a leader?
Leaders are susceptible to an inflated sense of self-importance, and Maxwell suggests that leaders exhibit the following qualities to remain realistic and grounded:
- Humility – understanding your place in the context of the bigger picture
- Authenticity – being comfortable with who you are
- Calling – having a purpose that is bigger than you
Am I adding value to my team?
Maxwell recommends these behaviors to ensure that you are:
- Promote full commitment
- Create an environment of encouragement and support
- Identify adversity as an opportunity to develop character
- Consider each person’s strengths and weaknesses
Am I staying in my “strength zone”?
Maxwell argues that many people spend their time trying to improve their weaknesses, so by focusing on and maximizing your strengths, you’ll be better positioned to see and seize opportunities as they come up.
Am I taking care of today?
While leaders are often focused on their vision of the future, Maxwell points out that the future isn’t where things get accomplished. “That happens today. That’s why you need to take care of it.”
Am I investing my time with the right people?
For Maxwell, the greatest test for a leader is whether he or she develops others to be leaders once he or she has moved on. He recommends being strategic with the time, effort, and other resources you dedicate to developing future leaders because “you can’t make a difference with people who don’t want to make a difference.”