Last week I had the privilege of delivering the keynote address at the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Conference. The presentation was titled Leadership: The Key is in the Questions. Like my presentation at the 2016 ILEETA conference, the focus was the power of questions. I challenged the participants to ask themselves questions regarding their leadership style and the culture of their organizations.
Why are questions so powerful? Profound questions lead to profound answers and profound answers lead to learning, self discovery and grow.
At both ILEETA and the Chiefs Conference I shared a list of seven questions from leadership guru John Maxwell. Every month John Maxwell has lunch with someone who can help him to grow as a person and as a leader. He has a series of questions he asks at this lunches. Here are the questions:
- What is the greatest lesson you have ever learned?
- What are you learning now?
- How has failure shaped your life?
- Who do you know that I should know?
- What have you read that I should read?
- What have you done that I should do?
- How can I add value to you?
What if you did the same thing? What is every month you met in person, or by phone or Skype, with a fellow trainer or leader and asked these same questions (along with followup questions to the answers)? Imagine how much you would grow as a trainer and a leader over the course of a year. Imagine the new relationships you would develop, the new books you would read, the new learning opportunities to learn you would discover.
Asking the questions is the start. Recording the answers and acting on the information is the key. If you simply ask the questions and never act on the answers little will change in your life.
Start now. Make a list of people you would like to connect with along with their contact information. Look at your calendar and find potential dates. Then reach out to the first person on the list and set up the lunch meeting or phone meeting. You can send them the list of questions in advance if you like to give them a chance to prepare.
As you progress through the year you can add your own questions to list. The key as Albert Einstein pointed out is to “never stop questioning”.
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