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3 Questions Every Leader Should Ask Themselves


The traits of a great leader are as infinite as the groups of people being led.  Every project, team, and objective has a unique dynamic, which requires its own recipe for effective leadership. Although great leadership may have many faces, leadership assessment can be evaluated on a universal scale. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you try to better understand leadership.

Does my team understand the vision and their role in achieving success?

We all know how integral employee engagement is to high productivity (read more about employee engagement).  With only 31% of employees engaged, you can see how a business can easily find themselves in the red if they don’t address these issues head on.  Most employees don’t want to feel like they have job, but rather that they are building a career.  If they don’t understand the value of what they are doing and how they can positively impact the company’s outcomes, they are significantly less likely to feel engaged.

Consider this example: If your spouse asked you to remember to turn off the lights when you leave a room, there is little likelihood that you’ll make a concerted effort to do so.  However, if your spouse told you that by remembering to turn the lights off, you could save up to $2,300 dollars in energy bills and take a mini vacation, you’d probably live in the dark for the rest of the year.

Do I understand my team’s priorities and needs?

As a leader, it’s your job to know what needs to be done to improve outcomes but a wise leader knows where to go looking for that answer.  If you find productivity and morale are low, then it’s imperative to interview your team to determine what essential tools they may be lacking.  These tools can range from education to technology to actual tools needed to do a job.

Remember that your employees are your ground troops and deal with the obstacles most detrimental to your productivity goals daily.  Listen to their strategy ideas.  Check out this article for a great case study on doing it right.

Do the measurables support the team and the vision?

Leadership is discernment.  A great leader understands that productivity measures must reflect relevant issues for success.  There is a story about a supervisor that was chronically 10 minutes late to work because he stopped to get his team donuts every morning. This supervisor had the lowest turnover, and his team had the highest productivity on the floor by leaps and bounds.  He spent his lunch creating additional training material for his team and was generally well liked by everyone he interacted with. The company’s annual evaluation was based on three basic categories: punctuality, productivity, and employee evaluations.

All three were scored equally.  Even though he maxed out scores for the last two categories, he failed to reach the necessary points needed to earn his bonus, based on his punctuality. Guess who found another place of employment less than two months later?  The point here is that the system of measurement was illogical.  Clearly, this supervisor made and saved much more money for his company than was lost in the 10 minutes he was late most days, but the measurement system was not created effectively.  The expectation must also be reasonable and well balanced.  Not only must a clear objective be met, but because this is a human endeavor, the manner in which success is pursued is pivotal.

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