5 Important Leadership Questions You’ve Probably Never Asked Yourself

HR insights and tips with Jeff Havens

Hello, and welcome to another installment of HR Intervention! I’m Jeff Havens, and I’m going to talk about leadership a little differently in this article.

You’ve heard all the standard stuff already – lead with humility, listen actively, don’t embezzle, avoid throwing things at people, blah blah blah – and that’s all fine stuff to hear occasionally, because all of us need to be reminded of these things from time to time.

But what about the questions you don’t often think to ask yourself?

Here are a few that don’t often come up in conversations about leadership but which you should definitely be asking yourself:

Have I Completely Surprised and Confused My Team Recently?

If you haven’t, you totally should.

All of us have a tendency to do things the way we’ve always done them, and consequently we often resist changes because they’re unfamiliar. But change is also the force that keeps life interesting and catapults mediocre performers into the stratosphere.

So if you’re in the habit of occasionally surprising people with an unexpected celebration, a new initiative, a bright pink stuffed animal sitting in the captain’s chair at your next department meeting – whatever comes to mind – you’ll also be training your team to expect the unexpected.

Has Anyone Told Me Lately How Badly I Screwed Up?

Because I hate to say it, but you probably have. All of us do, and the best leaders appreciate that you can’t have great successes without the occasional great failure.

Sony’s original name was Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo KK, and I guarantee someone eventually told those guys, “Hey, um, just a thought here, but why not – just hear me out here – why not name your company something that people can actually say?” I’m sure you tell your subordinates when they screw up, partially to prevent it from happening again, but also because that’s how you help them learn.

Which means that if no one is doing it for you, then how much can you really be learning?

How Well Will Everything Function If Someone Suddenly Vanishes?

Every so often, national sales executives get sick of all the airline pilots knowing them by name and abruptly turn in a two-week notice. On a more somber note, occasionally CEOs die in small plane crashes. It’s difficult to plan for the departure of anyone at your organization, but that’s exactly what succession planning is designed to do.

The best leaders are at least in the process of making sure that the transition from current leadership to the next generation will be as smooth and uninterrupted as possible.

Am I Exercising Regularly?

Nike’s CEO Mark Parker works out 7 days a week. Starwood Hotels CEO Frits van Paasschen holds many of his meetings during a bike ride. Regular exercise will give you more energy to do more work, or at the very least to better balance the demands of your personal and professional lives.

Plus, you’ll get to wear those awesome stretchy workout clothes, and everyone looks great in those…

When Was the Last Time Someone Made A Joke At My Expense?

I hope it was recently. Forbes lists “sense of humor” as one of the top ten qualities of a great leader, and nothing can cement that quality in you quite like being made fun of.

Besides, if people aren’t laughing with you, then they’re probably laughing at you behind your back. Because I guarantee you’ve done something dumb lately. Don’t worry too much about that, though. Everyone else has, too.

Looking for more unconventional leadership tips? Learn some lessons from the great Michael Scott in this blog post:

Jeff Havens is a speaker, author, and professional development expert who tackles leadership, generational, and professional development issues with an exceptional blend of content and entertainment. He is a contributing writer to Fast Company, Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal; and has been featured on CNBC and Fox Business. For more information, or to bring Jeff to your next meeting, call 309-808-0884, email info@jeffhavens.com, or visit Jeffhavens.com.

Speaker, Author and Professional Development Expert