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Ask your leaders: “If you owned the business, what’s one thing you would do differently?”

We believe that great leaders ask great questions. Are you brave? This question will test your courage, but the results can be powerful. You could (and possibly should) have a hired business consultant look at your business and give some sage advice. But there is a group of people that you are already paying who know your business intimately. Use this question to survey your team for blind spots. It may be that you will not use any of their ideas, but bad ideas can still lead to the best ideas. Also, this question gives you the opportunity to see your business from their lens. You may learn more about the key frustrations that your leaders face. This question also tests their courage. Be sure to reward and encourage honest and challenging answers. If not, you will probably begin getting more less-than-honest answers in the future.  

More thoughts on this topic:

It is wise to encourage courage. If you have a direct-telling personality, you may be more willing to hear direct-telling responses, but if you have more of a persuasive-selling personality, you will find it more abrasive to hear from the direct-telling folks. Resist the tendency to personalize courageous communication. Before asking a courageous question, prepare yourself to see the answers objectively. Search for the grain of truth in their statement. You may have to sift through their words to find it, but it is worth the effort. Another way to prepare for their courageous answers is to practice looking for the QBQ (the question behind the question – in this example, you are looking at the answer behind the answer). QBQ thinking is a more objective way to examine the words that you hear by considering the source and context of the words. It reminds me of the adage: “Walk a mile in their shoes.”

Explore more thoughts about courage in the workplace with this article by our LeadersQ coach, Danette High: “Questionable Courage

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