A must ask question if you lead

If you lead and you want people to perform; this is your MUST ask question

Straight to the point for this blog. The question is this:

“How do you want me to lead you?”

You may want to frame it and maybe consider having a process around it (both of which I will cover later) and at the same time it is THE question.

Why? Three reasons

1) It starts amazing conversations.

By asking the question you will find out from those that you lead what works for them, their preferences, their working style, what they like. You need to remember that like you, those you lead will have experiences that have formed who they are and how they work. Use these experiences to build a conversation about what you can do that will allow them to be at their best.

2) It provides validation for them as an individual and their wants and needs.

As humans we are ego-centric, it is natural and needs to be understood and the opportunity grasped. To have someone be interested in you is nice. For another person (especially at work) to take an in depth interest in you, what allows you to be at your best and to ask you explicitly how they can change to meet your preferences and needs, that is powerful!

3) It creates a contract between you.

Those you ask are telling you what you need to do to allow them to be at their best, to perform at their peak, to deliver consistently and regularly. As a leader (I imagine) this I something we want. It is also making BOTH parties accountable. During the conversation:

– You will agree what actions you will take to allow the other person to be at their best.
– Those you are asking agree that if you do these things, they will be able to perform at their best.

If either party fails to deliver on the expectations that have been agreed, it makes a follow up conversation easy and serves to encourage both parties to deliver.

What if…..

As a leader you can’t give them what they want?

My first challenge to the leader will be whether you can’t or won’t? If we work on the basis that:

– you don’t normally lead in that way
– that it isn’t usually done like that
– we are worried what others may think

This precludes us to be limited and restricts our options, opportunities and chances to allow those we lead to perform. I accept there are times where technology, the law, work pressures or confidentiality impacts our choices. Look at it fresh, take a step back and see how it can be done, it may well pay off.

The person you ask does not know?

Two easy options here:

1) Give the person some time to think about it. Explain that over the next 7 days (or so) you’d like it if they considered how to respond to that question. Then, you can meet again in and discuss some more.
2) Agree that for the next 4-6 weeks you will lead in a way that works for you and during that time the other person needs to collate a list of what works well, not so well and what (if they could) they wold change or add in. Then, meet again and have an informed conversation.

I am sure there are other questions and if you have them, please post them below and I will happily answer. In the mean time, I hope you have some amazing conversations.


4 responses to “A must ask question if you lead

  1. Great advice thanks – especially as I’ve just taken over a new team which is going through a tough change programme. 🙂 I will be using this……

    • Hi Luke.

      Glad it resonated with you and thank you for leaving your thoughts. I hope that it goes well and if you have any further questions, please let me know.



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