Leaders must be question askers. And they must ask the right questions. Some leaders love to hear themselves talk–and they believe that they always have the right answers. But as one friend of mine often says–“a good leader knows what he doesn’t know.” Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, says that flat world leaders have two common traits–they are passionate and they are curious.
These questions must revolve around two critical aspects of leadership in any endeavor–Where are we going? What will it take to get there? Both questions are future oriented. If a leader gets too bogged down in the here and now–one of two things will happen: the competition or the mission will pass him by–or the screeching wheels of the disaffected will consume his or her total time.
Where are we going? This question is always about “where is north?” It is keeping the big picture in mind–the destination clearly in focus. What will it take to get there? This question is about resources–people, tools, funds. Do I have the right people involved? Do the people I am leading have all that they need to fulfill what I have asked them to do? Do we have adequate funding? Do those that are following me understand their contribution and how it fits in to the mission? Do they have hope?
Asking the right questions is more important than having the right answers–because by the time you have the right answers your reality has changed.