When we learn something new, we are best set up to retain information and create new habits, when we are following one of our own interests. The latest research from neuroscience shows how our brain literally shapes itself following what we put our mind to, what emotions are present, and how we move our body. As we become more knowledgeable and skillful at something, our brain dedicates larger areas to that specific skill and its body movements. Asking yourself good question that hook into your natural curiosity, leads to learning, growth and insights. It can be that first powerful step into becoming exceptionally good at anything. Working with good questions also opens the door to great collaboration in teams. Questions open the room for curiosity, creativity, multiple ideas of approaches (rather than one pre-described one), exploration and experimentation. So what might powerful questions about leadership look like? How can we use these to effectively learn what is most important to know, feel and do on our journey of becoming a great leader?
When you define leadership as the power to positively influence a group to find their path towards a shared goal, what is it then, that is helpful for you to learn about leadership?
To me I started asking myself: what can I learn about power, influence and successful teams?
It quickly led me to the research from Google on common characteristics of successful teams. They found the following factors:
Every part of this leads to new questions, and therefore topics I can explore as part of my journey of becoming a better leader.
Good questions to ask about psychological safety:
How might I create Psychological safety? Why does it not always feel good? What can I do about that? How might I measure psychological safety in my team? What kind of actions and behaviors are nurturing psychological safety in a team? What kind of actions and behaviors are damaging psychological safety in a team? What is the relationship of these and the positional power I have as a leader in a group? How can I co-design a way of working with my team that works for all of us and ultimately results in that magical psychological safety? What is the relationship of uncertainty and psychological safety? What is the relationship of resilience and psychological safety? What role does equality, inclusion and belonging play in creating psychological safety? What role does trust play? What behaviors build or diminish trust? What does our work style (in person, hybrid, remote) play in creating psychological safety? How do we deal with failure and mistakes – are they safe to make?
Good questions to ask about dependability:
What is dependability in the context of a team? What tools and habits do we have to be accountable with each other? What role does trust play in this context? What role do boundaries play in this context? How might we get good at knowing how much work we can do in a sprint, a quarter or a week? What does commitment mean in our team and how do we reflect on it? What accountability mechanisms do we have in our team and are they effective? What is important about feedback and language when it comes to holding somebody accountable? What is the role of shame and defensiveness in relationship to commitment, dependability and accountability? What kind of emotional patterns might inadvertently sabotage our dependability?
Good questions to ask about structure and clarity:
Why does structure and clarity matter? Are our goals and plans clear to people? How can we create more clarity around these? Who will create clarity around goals, plans and roles? And how will they do it? Does that work for the people on the team and their learning styles?
How do people feel about clear roles in our teams? Do people know what they can expect from each other? How might we make this explicit? What about that paradox of clarity vs. rigidity? How do we change and adapt when people would prefer stability on goals, plans and roles? What kind of goal setting tools fit to empowered teams?
Good questions to ask about meaning:
What is personally important to team members? What is personally important to me? How might I find out what my values and life purpose are? How do we deal with diverse and potentially opposing values members of the team hold? Are diverse viewpoints and perspectives an issue or an asset on the team? What happens if values are in conflict? How do we deal with that? What happens if values and our actions are in conflict? How do we hold ourselves accountable? What is the relationship of integrity and values and behaviors in the team? How does this relate to trust (and then as a result back to psychological safety)?
Good questions to ask about impact:
What does impact mean? What kind of impact do we want to create? What is the relationship between impact and behavior? What kind of impact matters to the people on our team? How does this impact relate to team member’s personal values? What kind of change do we want to create as a team? Why do we want to create that change? Why is it important to be clear on our “why”, and how does this relate back to structure and clarity? What is the relationship between impact and specific initiatives? How might we become better at finding alternative and better approaches to reach the same impact? What is the relationship between impact, people’s values, their engagement and ultimately their mental and physical health?
Good questions to ask about power:
Coming back to that original statement that leadership is about the power to positively influence a group with an aim to reach a shared goal, there is that “power” word included. So I asked myself: What is power? How does it show up in leadership? What kind of sources of power are influencing a team? Do I choose to have a “power over”, “power with” or “power under” approach to how I personally want to and actually show up in the team? What is good about power? How might power structures sabotage a team? How might my perspective on the topic of power hold my team back?
How do these questions help you learn more about leadership?
There is probably one (or a number) of these questions, that somehow spoke to you. It might have provoked you. It might be about something that holds a clue to one of your current leadership challenges. It might be something you simply never heard or thought about that made you curious. It might be a question that seemed surprising. You can simply follow your instinct and intuition and pick one of those questions to start learning more. You can bookmark this post and pick out the next questions next week, I’m sure if you seriously go about exploring these for a while, you’ll learn a ton about leadership. And it will get you in the habit of asking powerful follow up questions yourself!
You can also tap into the wisdom of your team to start exploring these questions together. Here is when the power of diversity and different life experiences in your team will come in as a true asset. If you explore something new together, and you walk on that learning journey together, you’ll have fun, find appreciation for each other and grow stronger as a team. My workshops on learning about leadership with your teams are designed to get you and your team started on that journey. I also work with leaders and teams to make values and purpose explicit together. What insight about leadership would most help you? What do you wan to learn about leadership?
If you would like to explore this more: reach out for a free discovery session with me.
I coach, speak, do workshops and blog about #leadership, #product leadership, #innovation, the #importance of creating a culture of belonging and how to succeed with your #hybrid or #remote teams.
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