The Best Question for a Leader to Ask

Good leaders ask good questions. Questions (as opposed to statements) signal a willingness to listen. They convey values and reinforce desired behaviors. They foster learning.

But what is the best question for a leader to ask?  It’s a question that we ask ourselves (not others) when we are faced with an especially difficult challenge or situation.  The question is, “What would a great leader do?”

Why is this a good question?

  • It demonstrates humility.  By asking this question, we are saying, “I am not always a great leader, but I know what one looks like. I can learn from great leaders. If a great leader were faced with this situation that I am faced with right now, what would she or he do?”
  • It raises the standard of your leadership above the circumstances of your leadership.  When you ask, “What would a great leader do?” you are stretching yourself toward excellence. The question helps us to rise above our emotions and biases and helps to take a broader view of what we should do.
  • It reveals motive. It reveals fear or weakness. Sometimes it is our personal interest that keeps us from doing what a great leader would do, which is what is best for the greater good and the longer term. Sometimes it is our fear or our desire to avoid conflict. 

What would a great leader do?  This question gives you glimpse of what could be or should be for you as a leader.

This question applies to the other important roles in our lives, too. When faced with an especially difficult or challening situation, we can ask… What would a great spouse do right now? What would a great friend do? What would a great parent do in this situation? What would a great teammate do?

Listen here to an audio clip (8 minutes) from Andy Stanley to learn more.

Published by Mitch Barns

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