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Asking Smart Questions Changes Everything

Asking Smart Questions

WE LIVE IN A TIME when accountability is often sidelined. When it is, there can be disastrous consequences in government, in politics, in the media, and in business. The antidote, I’ve found during my two decades as an accountability speaker and business consultant, is a thoughtful and persistent effort to infuse accountability into every objective, every task, and in every colleague-to-colleague and company-to-customer interaction. For the world-class companies that do this well, accountability isn’t an esoteric mandate handed down from senior leadership. Instead, it is a systemic root-to-tip effort that makes accountability an organic state of being that is cultivated on a daily basis by everyone within the organization. And believe it or not, it doesn’t take a Herculean effort. Accountability is easily nurtured by curiosity.

Simple Questions are the Seeds of Accountability

As a writer and accountability speaker, I stress the importance of my Seven Pillars of Accountability™: character, unity, learning, tracking, urgency, reputation, evolving. Every member of an organization can build and strengthen accountability by asking fundamental questions related to these pillars. Ask your peers and colleagues. Ask your immediate supervisor and members of the senior leadership team. Their answers, along with your own, will create a blueprint for better performance.

Here are some starter questions to help you begin cultivating the mindset that builds accountability. You don’t have to be a management expert, accountability speaker or business guru to be a catalyst for excellence. The important thing is to begin the discovery process that fosters it.

What does “living our core values” look like to you?
Does my behavior reflect the beliefs we stand for?
What is one thing I should start doing differently right now?

What are your key expectations for my position?
Am I delivering on what is expected of me?
What will happen if our organization fails to reach our objectives?

How can I be more effective within my role?
How does the organization intend to encourage my professional development and career growth?
What advice can you offer on ways I can move forward in my career?

What key performance indicators should I be measuring in my position?
Is our organization tracking metrics to drive performance or to empower people?
What intangibles should I be considering that can impact tracking?

Where is there room for greater excellence in my execution?
Am I overlooking an opportunity for incremental growth?
Are we simply “settling” in any areas of our organization?

How can I better collaborate with colleagues?
What can I do to make the company more successful?
If I was fired today, what changes would my replacement make?

Asking Isn’t Easy
As an accountability speaker and consultant, I work closely with organizations to help them determine actionable steps to strengthen identified weaknesses and place them on an upward trajectory. I can tell you there isn’t a magic formula. It begins by figuring out the relevant questions, asking them, and acting on the answers. However, for many leaders, sometimes the hardest part is in the asking of these questions.

While good leaders may solve problems, great leaders ask questions. In fact, great leaders create an environment where questions, especially tough questions, are welcomed, asked, and answered before decisions are made and after results are assessed. Are you ready to start asking smart questions in your organization?

That’s A Great Question

With years of first-hand experience, and in working closely with a variety of organizations, both leading and emerging, I’ve collected a list of over 500 provocative questions that explore 18 compelling topics centered around leadership and business. These questions, and other insights, are compiled in my book, That’s A Great Question: Are You Asking The Right Questions In Business? In Life? If you’re ready to take that next step towards becoming a great leader, this book will guide you in asking smart questions.

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Leading Forum
Greg Bustin advises leaders of some of the world’s most admired companies, and he’s dedicated a career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of hundreds of companies in a range of industries. He’s facilitated more than 200 strategic planning sessions, and he’s delivered more than 500 keynotes and workshops on five continents. He is the author of How Leaders Decide: A Timeless Guide to Making Tough Choices. To inquire about engaging Bustin as an accountability or leadership keynote speaker, creating a custom workshop for your organization, or discussing a strategic planning session, contact him at 214.720.3707 or by email at [email protected]

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