To say being a great leader is hard would be an understatement. That’s exactly why the saying “people leave managers, not companies” became not just popular, but true. People are fed up with leaders who make their professional lives harder or downright miserable. They desire people who contribute value to their life not just take value from them.
The leader/employee relationship is important because it impacts pay increases, job movement, skill development, and engagement at work. Which is why you should never settle for bad leadership.
Whether you’re interviewing for a new position or want to find out where your current leader stands, you can use this short list of questions to determine if they’re a leader worth following:
Why do you do what you do?
Many business leaders are stuck in their jobs because of the proverbial golden handcuffs. They moved up because they were good at their prior position, but they don’t particularly like managing people. In fact, if it wasn’t for the pay increase resulting in an adjusted lifestyle, they would have left the job years ago. Ask them, “Why do you do what they do?” If the first word out of their mouth is “money”, the likelihood of them being a great leader is ridiculously low. Don’t be confused – money and results are important, but they shouldn’t be the sole reason your leader maintains their position.
Where are we going?
“No really, what’s the future vision? Is the plan to come in punch the clock everyday, or are we out to achieve something by a desired timeline?” It’s a leader’s job to see things that others cannot, to envision a future that has not yet happened. So ask these questions if your leader hasn’t communicated a compelling vision. If the response you get is, “Why is this important?” or “Please can you get back to work and quit disturbing me with these questions!” Chances are, it might be time to move on.
How are you going to help me develop?
Developing new skills, growing professionally, and becoming a better human being are areas we should focus our time. There is no question that we do this more effectively when our leaders are focused on our development as much as they are the results. By asking “How are you going to help me develop?” or better yet building and taking a personal development plan to them and asking them to help you get there, you will find out quickly how they feel about your personal development. You have every right and desire to know how your leader is going to help you become the best version of yourself. Don’t let your leader’s buy-in define your development or stunt it. You are always in control – even if it means finding a leader who will invest in you.
Having a leader who can answer these questions accordingly is vital. If you don’t hear the answers you believe you’re owed, you may be left navigating these waters by yourself. Press your leader or potential leader before you’ve spent too much time wondering what the answers could be.
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John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft and Host of the Follow My Lead Podcast. He is passionate about the development of people. He writes, and speaks about modern leadership and learning techniques. You can find him on instagram @johngeades.