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What questions should leaders ask themselves on a regular basis?

There is a lot written in the literature about the benefits of leaders routinely spending time asking themselves a series of key questions that help them to gauge and enhance their performance. Done regularly, this becomes a habit of self-reflection that only takes 10 or 15 minutes. Ideally, it’s best to ask yourself these questions on a daily basis. However, what’s most important is that you ask them at all. 

Psychology journalist Steven Handel says, “The truth is that questions can help us begin thinking in new ways, which can help us find answers that aren’t immediately apparent. The majority of our thinking happens unconsciously. But by asking questions, we bring our internal thought processes into the spotlight.”  (The Emotion Machine, 2009)

Below is a selection of different questions that I believe are important for leaders to ask themselves on a regular basis. The list is random and not in any order of priority and some questions are quite similar, though worth considering. After questions 1-5 and 10-13, it’s good to then ask, ‘How?’:

  1. Did I focus on using my strengths today?
  2. Did I bring my authentic self to work?
  3. Did my behaviour today align with my personal values?
  4. Did I spend my day on purpose?
  5. Did I make a difference today?
  6. What am I grateful for today?
  7. What did I learn today?
  8. What could I improve or do differently tomorrow?
  9. How can I be a better leader?
  10. Did I do my best work today?
  11. Did I lead by example?
  12. Did I achieve what I set out to achieve?
  13. Did I acknowledge and thank people for their contributions today?

I usually pick out a few questions from the list above to ask myself, sometimes on a daily basis, but more often, it’s once a week on Sunday evening and write the questions and answers down in a journal. After a while it becomes a regular habit. To start with, you could set up a calendar reminder to make sure you don’t forget.

I’m a reflector by nature and I find that setting some time aside after a busy day or week, provides me with the head space to really focus on how I am showing up as a leader.

Is this something that you do too… and what question/s do you find most to ask yourself?

Just remember:

“Asking the right questions is often more important than having all the answers.”

– Handel.