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4 Questions that can build your leadership tree

Most people agree that there are many traits of a true leader, including competency, professionalism, vision, trustworthiness, communications, the ability to instill confidence and, of course, courage.

But great leaders have three other qualities that further set them apart.

In today’s marketplace, the prime devotion of leaders is to their people because they know it’s through engaged, functioning teams that “bottom line” goals are achieved. If you can deliver on this trait, you’ll be more likely to accomplish your professional and personal goals.

The most successful and beloved leaders have another trait that’s sometimes overlooked: They mentor their people to become leaders. Great NFL coaches like Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, Tom Landry and Bill Parcels became legendary through the subsequent performance of the coaches they mentored. It’s called the Coaching Tree. Whose names will be on your Leadership Tree?

This quality has two significant parts:

  1. They’re devoted to asking questions; and
  2. they listen

Four key questions will help you become a legendary leader and build your own Leadership Tree.

1. “How’re you doing?”

Chester Elton, co-author of What Motivates Me, says this isn’t a drive-­by question. It’s a look ’em in the eye, “I’ve got time to listen” question. The setting has to be where the leader can be “in the moment” with the other person. And answers are not pre­supposed. They might talk about their job, their aspirations, or their personal life. Great leaders care about all of that.

2. “How can I help?”

Chester Elton says this question creates a safe environment. A mentor once said, “If you’re in trouble in your job, don’t go down by yourself. Get me involved early and let me help you get out of trouble.”

3. “What do you think?”

Jim Blasingame calls this the Leader’s Power Question and it produces two kinds of fruit:

  1. Few things cultivate the illusive engagement factor more than when the boss asks the opinion of an employee;
  2. Valuable information almost always spouts

4. “What did we learn?”

Jim Blasingame refers to this as the Leader’s Magic Question, and it may be the four most important words in management. He believes redemption is the most human behavior a leader can demonstrate. And the most powerful mentoring moment happens after a team member makes a mistake taking initiative and the leader says, “Okay, now we know what happened,” then redeems him with: “What did we learn?” Powerful!

This material was originally created by Jim Blasingame and posted to Small Business Advocate

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4 Questions that can build your leadership tree

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