20 Questions all Leaders Should Ask Themselves
Over the last few months, I’ve been asking leaders to complete an anonymous questionnaire so I could get a better understanding of the types of struggles and challenges faced by leaders who want to improve their leadership practice.
Of all the answers I received, there were five common themes. The leaders told me that standing between them and making changes to their current situation were:
- A lack of motivation or commitment
- Not knowing what they want or what’s possible
- A lack of confidence
- Not knowing how to take the next step
- Not enough time / too much to do
These obstacles weren’t just restricted to work, but also expanded into their personal lives. They felt they were simply going through the motions, processing the usual daily tasks, but with no real direction or purpose. They didn’t feel a connection to what was happening around them, which left them feeling empty and deep down knowing something wasn’t right.
I brought this up with some of my clients, who told me they were going through the same thing.
After some further questions, they discovered they had fallen into the trap of focusing outside themselves. The most recent thing to land in their ‘in’ tray became the focus of their attention, before someone or something else presented itself. The leaders told me they never made time to focus on themselves.
Surprisingly, when I asked them which change they would most like to make in their lives, the responses were all about them!
My clients talked to me about how they wanted to feel differently about their work – either to stop worrying so much, feel more confident or stop feeling so emotional (one often found herself in tears). Others were very conscious of their need to have a stronger sense of direction, be more productive or work towards more challenging goals. They talked about the need to feel less pressure and to have more ‘me’ time.
What’s really getting in your way?
What was interesting was that although everything these leaders really wanted, related to changes in themselves, they persisted in focusing on whatever or whoever was around them, particularly problems they couldn’t do anything about. This is a huge waste of emotional energy that will exacerbate the real issues, not remove them.
In other words, my clients’ behaviour, not the people or events around them, was the real thing getting in their way.
If this feels like you, then it’s easy to change. Simply focus on what you can control… and that’s you!
I like to ask my clients a question: “Are you living up to your potential, or getting in your own way?”
This is where the reflection starts. It’s where you start to become aware of, then take responsibility for, your thoughts, feelings, and actions. It’s where you start to take a much more active role in getting the results you really want.
20 questions to help you get out of your own way
Obviously, as a coach, I like to ask questions! Questions have a way of getting you to look at things from a different perspective, and they open the doors to new ideas that you simply don’t have when you’re going through the motions in a busy leadership role.
If you recognise that you might be standing in the way of making the changes you really need, then ask yourself these questions and see what comes up:
Start with your “here and now”
1. What’s your current situation (in your work and personal life)?
2. Are you happy with that?
3. What have you had to overcome to get where you are?
4. What are your strengths?
Start to dream
5. Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
6. What do you love doing?
7. What gives you excitement?
8. What activities would you have no problem doing all day?
9. How can you utilise your strengths?
Set a personal goal
10. Is it clear what you want to achieve?
11. Will it stretch you?
12. How will you know you’ve achieved it?
13. When will you achieve it by?
14. Have you included smaller tasks to help you keep on track?
15. How can you take charge of your personal obstacles (feelings, thoughts, and actions)?
16. Can you accept and believe in yourself?
17. How can you see things in a positive light?
18. What do you need to do to protect your wellbeing?
19. How will you keep yourself on task?
20. Who could you ask to help keep you on track?
Despite appearances, it’s rarely the external factors that are standing between you and success. A little bit of digging will soon show you how you are blocking your own progress, and how you can step out of the way!
At this point, you consciously make the decision to focus on what you have, what life offers you and – more importantly – what you’re going to do next, which adds up to a formula for being happier and more engaged at work.
As a leader, it’s essential to understand what’s getting in your way and start to focus on what you can control, and that’s you! If this sounds like something you might benefit from, then why not book a no-obligation consultation to see how I could help?