Every leader wants to be impactful. What you say has an impact. Here are two questions that every executive should ask. These questions will create the conversations and generate the actions for you and your people to stay relevant and be successful.
1. How Can I Help?
One of the most powerful phrases a leader can use is, “How can I help?”. When there is a challenge, it is useful. When there is a request, it’s key. When there is an opportunity, it works.
The phrase, “How can I help?” is powerful.
It’s short. It’s clear. And it’s easily understood. People immediately know that you want to support them. They know your intention is positive. They know that they matter. Because you are focused on helping them.
It is the cornerstone question asked in the hospital series, Manhattan. In the series, the new head of the hospital asks this question at every turn. Whether he is battling budget issues, staffing shortages, emergency crises or personal dilemmas, he uses it. He asks it to his doctors, nurses, patients, admins every day. Over time, this question leads to both increased trust and innovations that make life better for the hospital staff and the patients.
This phrase also empowers your people. You are asking them what they need. You are giving them a chance to share possible solutions. You are focused on helping them find a solution to their issue. This develops your people as they explore new ideas on their own. They get better and faster at it over time.
Any executive career coach will tell you that this phrase also provokes action. It moves the conversation to a place of solving. It becomes practical and real. By asking, “how can I help?”, you create the opportunity to find a solution and move forward.
One of our biggest jobs as leaders is enabling our people so they can do what they need to do. By asking this question, we help to eliminate roadblocks and get rid of frustration. We help them to move ahead so they can be successful.
2. What Did You Learn?
Learning is key to success. As leaders, we need to create a culture of learning to be sustainable. We must continue to learn by reviewing what’s working and what’s not. We must reflect on what’s changing and how we need to adapt. Without learning, we cannot stay relevant. We must learn. We must adapt. We must evolve.
As Emily He says in Forbes, Why Learning is the Future of Work, “As the future of work continues to evolve and technology continues to accelerate the pace of change, the value of learning – and further, the value of continuous learning – becomes more important than ever before.”
Asking the question, “What did you learn?” shows your openness and curiosity as a leader.
It creates a safe place for your people to share new ideas and solutions. And it gives you the opportunity to adjust and stay relevant.
Setting up a continual cycle of feedback to share learning is one way to make sure that insights are captured. You can set up a separate meeting to share new learnings or you can build key learnings into meetings that already exist. Another option is to host a debrief on any major project, program, or campaign that includes learning.
By asking the question, “What did you learn?”, you stay open and curious, and create possibility for your people and new opportunities.
As a leader, you can incorporate these two questions into your day-to-day leadership. Ask how you can help. Find out what was learned. Create the opportunity through these two key questions to move past challenges and seize new opportunities.
If you are interested in exploring other ways to improve your leadership, consider signing up for a professional executive coaching program. These programs can be catered and customized to fit your leadership needs and will help you take the next step to supporting your team further.