When it comes to inspiring and empowering our teams, in every dialog people are taking cues in what we do and how we carry ourselves. If you can allow people to feel inspired by what you do, then you’ve empowered them. That doesn’t happen accidentally. Inspiring others doesn’t have to be about sharing our own stories and successes either. Most often, I’ve found that asking the right questions has the most potential to inspire, engage, and empower others.
While I strive to be intentional about asking big questions of my team, remaining present and intentional in dialog, I often stray in the day-to-day routine of the office. For example, I’ve been present on my company’s bi-weekly leadership call for the past two years. In general, I had been making a few passing comments as they came up but mostly showed up unprepared, just reacting to the conversation as it played out. I recently wondered what my role was on this call and how I could make an impact on the outcome without owning the call. I realized I was missing a huge opportunity by not being intentional with my air-time contribution.
So I started listening more intently on these calls, thinking about the kinds of questions or ideas that could inspire, empower, and energize everyone in attendance. To promote and energize my team around success, I had to ask myself a few questions and then ask them to the team. And I had to do so on a regular basis to become intentional about achieving success.
Four Questions to Start Asking Today
The four questions I share below have become my go-to air-time contributions on my leadership calls; they’re also questions I ask myself frequently to keep us all on the intentional, engaged path to success.
- Do you inspire and empower your team? A lot of times we just engage in doing what we do and we’re not intentional about the most important nuances of that. As opportunities come up to engage, often times we’re not intentional about them. Let people know what you think. Plan out how you can be inspirational. What kind of words can you use? What’s an insight you noticed? Don’t be reactionary; plan it out, and make the way you say it count, too.
- Is pursuing great talent an obsession for you? You know how managers of football teams are obsessed with talent? That’s because they know once they get the right talent everything else is easier. So they spend a whole lot of time and money on identifying and recruiting talent. I’ve noticed over the years that a knack for talent acquisition tends to be a shared trait of most great leaders. Every time we have dialog, every time we assess internal and external scouts, we should be engaging this topic. Are we the best talent scouts or are we delegating that task to others? You have to be obsessed with great talent to get the best teams. In my career, I’ve been obsessed with finding great talent and finding the right spot for that talent. Rarely have I sought talent to fill an opening. Mostly it’s more like we find a person that’s a great talent, and then we find a spot for them.
- How creative are you? Do you encourage your team to be creative? Without creativity and innovation, business dies. The world we live in is one where there’s a lot of change and change happens fast. Figuring out how to be creative and allowing others to be creative is a lifeline for your business. Engaging the creative space means your team needs to feel safe and have trust, so they have the freedom to share their ideas and work on them together. Do you put a premium on people coming up with ideas and conceptually creating different services without a lot of restraints? Is that part of your day-to-day repertoire when you engage in conference calls? The big picture is that leaders become mechanical more times than not. The challenge is not to be mechanical but to be intentional about the things that often go by the wayside, like creativity.
- Do the people you lead say working for you promotes their self-development and personal growth? In other words, if you were to take a survey of everyone who works for you, would they show actionable engagements about how you are advocating, helping and supporting that? That could simply start with asking basic questions like, “Tell me a little bit about things you think you ought to be working on in the next year?” or, “What are areas of personal growth you would like to engage or wish you were engaging more?” and, “If you had a wishlist of things you want to improve on, where would you want to be?” We’re all wired to focus on things we do but we write it off when we focus on what we want to improve on. I find the best types of questions are open ended. You’d be amazed at how many people I have asked one of these questions of who just haven’t thought about it.
What are some of the questions you use to inspire success for you and your team? These are the questions you and your team come back to again and again. Once you’ve nailed down your top four or five, then you can be intentional around them each and every time you engage your team or others.
Next, identify the opportunity, like my bi-weekly call, where you can use your air-time contribution to inspire rather than go through the motions. Ask those questions when there’s a lull in the conversation, add them to the agenda, or use them as an introductory ice-breaker. Just tweaking your time with a little intentionality and some inspirational questions can immediately impact your team’s engagement and spark new ideas and inspiration. After that, success becomes within reach and your team is ready for it.