Learning to ask tough questions of a team is a necessary skill in leadership training, since teams cannot grow and move forward without addressing the challenges holding them back. High-functioning team members are able to trust and challenge each other to think differently – this creates an environment that fosters problem-solving and adaptability.
Some tough questions to ask the team may be:
- What can we do to take this team to the next level?
- What are some drawbacks and strengths to our different work styles?
- Is there anything that needs to be said that we are avoiding talking about?
- Are there actions or mindsets of the group or individuals that are causing us to get in our own way?
These kinds of questions can cause tension between teammates or not get answered at all if the team doesn’t have a level of trust built up with its leader, and with each other. Trust must be built intentionally, and it starts with the leader.
Stephen Covey lists 13 behaviors that build and maintain trust in “How the Best Leaders Build Trust.” He has observed these behaviors in high-trust leaders worldwide, and notes that it’s very important they balance each other. These leadership behaviors are:
- Talk Straight
- Demonstrate Respect
- Create Transparency
- Right Wrongs
- Show Loyalty
- Deliver Results
- Get Better
- Confront Reality
- Clarify Expectation
- Practice Accountability
- Listen First
- Keep Commitments
- Extend Trust
Asking the tough questions can be intimidating as a leader because it might mean admitting that you don’t have an answer. Although many leaders may feel that they need to always be perceived as having the answers, it can be much more beneficial to a team when a leader asks for others’ input and guidance.
In “Leadership Basics: What to Do When You Don’t Have All the Answers,” Mark Sanborn says, “It can be refreshing to learn that leaders don’t always know it all. This makes it easier for your team and others to relate. What’s more, nobody can help know-it-alls. People who admit they could use guidance greatly increase the likelihood of getting good ideas from others.”
The Leaders’ QuickTip series from BizLibrary Productions covers 50 leadership training topics in short micro video lessons. For “Leaders’ QuickTip #49: Ask the Tough Questions,” recommended resources include the articles referenced above, among several others.