Are you asking the right questions?
The answers might not matter as much
It is easier to judge the mind of a man by his questions rather than his answers. — Pierre-Marc-Gaston de Lévis
Think about your day yesterday. What questions did you face? If you’re like many busy executives, they were probably along the lines of:
Did the Western division get its budget numbers in?
Do I approve of HR’s new vacation policy?
What did revenue look like last week compared with budget?
How did people receive my message at the company meeting?
What am I going to do about my VP of Ops who keeps sending flame email to the other executives?
Where am I going for lunch?
These aren’t uncommon questions. All tactical. Most driven by others rather than you. All necessary but none dealing with the most important levers of your business. We go home at night thinking we did good work because we have precise and thoughtful answers to the questions before us. Often the wrong questions …
It’s not as though the issues above don’t need addressing. They do. But tactical questions crowd out the truly important questions, giving us the illusion of progress when in fact we’re often dealing with minor issues. Or, even worse, we’re making decisions that add no value and, in some cases, contribute to ballooning bureaucracy!
Yes, answer HR’s question about vacation, but block out time on your calendar to ask the big questions, such as:
Do I have the right business model?
Exactly what is our strategy — why will our core customers buy from us in the future versus our competitors?
How do I create an aligned team that is committed, not just compliant?
What’s the proper capital structure for our business?
What should good governance look like?
Who do I need to be as a leader?
You’re probably giving the correct answer to most of the questions people ask you or you ask yourself, but are you asking the right questions?