The 5 for 5 blog – Everyday leadership questions

13 Feb

Photo Feb 10, 7 51 19 PM

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” ~ Jack Welch

The job of leaders is to build more leaders. But as my own team has begun exploring how we go about identifying the developing a group of new leaders within our own team, it is a great reminder of some key questions we should ask prospective leaders, and frankly ourselves, to really test if we grasp what it means to lead:

Why do you want to be a leader?

We’ve written about this before (, this is a question about whether the leader grasps the idea of being a steward. If the person’s answers revolve around “I” and “me” then I know the person doesn’t fully understand what it means to lead. As with the quote above, leadership is about caring and developing those who you have been entrusted to lead, not the other way around. And again, this question isn’t just for prospective young leaders, current leaders would do well to ask this regarding decisions and initiatives to really test the direction they want to go.

What do you have to give away?

If you know that the leader has a heart for others and want to focus on helping their team and its members maximize their potential, this question is a test of whether the leader is committed to their own development. As the saying goes “You can’t give away what you don’t have”, leaders need to be learners. Does that mean leaders need to be deep subject matter experts in every aspect of the business you are in. No. Leaders do, however, need to exhibit the mindset that that they are as or more committed to learning than their teams, especially given the dynamic business world we live in. In fact, we can often learn from our team members, if we are willing to be vulnerable and focused more on encouraging the knowledge development and sharing than trying to show all information needs to flow from the top, or worse, not even acknowledging the good ideas flowing from your team.

How would you go about sharing what you have?

This question speaks to the need to know your team’s individual goals and development opportunities. Rather than outsourcing the development of your team to week long off-sites where little information is retained is the leader committed to curing the content to support each individual’s needs. If face, as per the last question, can the leader create an environment where both the leader and team member are learning, discussing, sharing, and implementing new ideas? The leader also needs to consider how the delivery of information can not only reach each team member but actually foster additional interactions to apply what they are learning and even collaborate with other team members that are on the same learning path.

There is not a company around today that would tell you that “we have too many leaders.” As the leader on your team, though, consider the questions above as a gauge to see where your next generation of leaders are at. Check the responses and pour into them accordingly. You can make a difference for generations of leaders by asking the questionsand working at the development of those leaders that will in turn pass that on as they become stewards themselves.

And again, ask yourself these questions on a regular basis and keep your own purpose and focus in check along the way.

Here are this week’s 5 for 5 articles:

Study something you love in depth – by Austin Kleon

Two Secrets to Staying Motivated and Hungry – by Gary Vaynerchuk

Then just say it like that! – by Jason Fried

Emotional Intelligence Has 12 Elements. Which Do You Need to Work On? – by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis

All Your Wasted Time On The Internet Could Be Heating Up People’s Houses – by Adele Peters

all the best, kevin