Three Big Questions Effective Leaders Ask to Get Results that Matter

We live in a just-get-it-done culture. But often in the race to results, businesses and organizations fail to step back and assess the health of the people and processes they depend upon to produce. In our experience, here are three big questions (along with a few more to help you deep dive each topic) the best leaders consistently ask to ensure they’re getting results that matter.

1. Where are we going and how will we get there?

Yeah, we know — pretty obvious, huh? But, it’s amazing how many companies (not yours of course!) are busy running with no real destination in mind. Do you have a plan you’re working today that moves you toward your desired result tomorrow? This question is not just about what you do but also who you’re becoming as an organization. What values guide you and keep you focused? Do your people feel connected to something bigger? Your company will only be as healthy to the degree that you’ve clarified the Big Why that gives meaning to the everyday grind of the what. Idealistic, yes! But people perform at their best when they see that their work is tied to a greater goal. It’s imperative that your leadership team be unified around the answers to these questions:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. What exactly do we do best?
  3. Do our values inform our decisions across the organization?
  4. Do we have a clear process for success?
  5. Are key leaders in agreement on what’s most important right now?
  6. Do we have the right people doing the right thing?
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2. What are my employees really thinking?

Employee engagement is the key to getting results that matter. According to a 2018 Gallup survey, only 34% of US workers are “engaged … those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and their workplace.” The percentage of “not engaged” is 53%. These are people who generally like where they work and what they do but have no real buy-in. They are dependable and do good work, but they will bolt your company for what they consider a slightly better situation. (Employee Engagement on the  Rise in the U.S. by Jim Harter:

How does this impact getting results that matter? The Gallup survey found:

“Compared with business units in the bottom quartile, those in the top quartile of engagement realize substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21% higher profitability.”

People are the heart and soul of your organization. To up their level of engagement and productivity, you’ll need to get into the mind of your team and get accurate answers to these questions:

  1. Do our employees feel we care for them as individuals?
  2. Do our employees believe we are invested in their development?
  3. Do our employee feel that their opinions count?
  4. Does our vision make our employees feel that their job is important?
  5. Do our team members trust each other?
  6. How healthy are the relationships between our employees and our managers?
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3. How do we continuously improve?

Healthy organizations bake the ability to change into their process. They can identify issues, innovate solutions, implement processes and evaluate results in real time on a daily basis. They empower their teams to assess, plan, execute and retrospect as a part of their routine. In unhealthy places, change grinds up the process, creates confusion, invites complaints, and buy-in erodes. Here are a few questions to begin evaluating your capacity to continuously improve:

  1. Do our employees have clarity on what success in their work looks like?
  2. Have we given our team the resources and support they need to do their work well?
  3. Do our employees get to do what they do best every day?
  4. What are the impediments hidden within our work process?
  5. Do our meetings effectively help our teams identify issues and implement solutions?
  6. What does a healthy feedback loop look like?
  7. Are we monitoring and measuring the most important things?
  8. Is our use of technology facilitating or frustrating our people and progress?

Organizations, both businesses and non-profits, are living entities. They are either healthy or unhealthy. And just as our bodies have key organs and systems that are critical to our overall well-being, so does your organization. Effective leaders consistently step back to retrospect, assess and adjust to make sure the pulse of their organization stays strong.