Article - Questions Engaging Leaders Ask

By Karen Schmidt


In my experience, the most engaging leaders are people who are good at asking a lot of thought provoking questions, questions that get people thinking, questions that cause people to grow. So what sort of questions am I talking about? They are questions that go to the heart of what it means to be an engaging leader.

I challenge you to answer these questions in terms of what you have done this year and what you intend to do next year. You might like to give yourself a rating out of 5 . . . 1 being poor through to 5 being excellent to see where you have excelled and where you need more work. Hopefully by the end of the process you will have a few ideas on how you can increase your ability to engage not only yourself but also the people around you regardless of your position.

1. How am I growing?

This question is designed to get you thinking about your growth in the two key areas of Professional development and Personal development. What seminars, workshops and conferences you have attended; what books or journals you have read; what coaching or mentoring you have received; what projects or committees you have been involved in; what experiences have you had. It is the first question because it is the foundation for the rest, the root system that allows you to grow further.

2. How am I helping my team to grow?

Perhaps some of your personal growth has occurred as a result of helping other people to grow. Remember the famous phrase “you don’t really know something until you have to teach it to someone else”. This could be via formal or informal mentoring, coaching or training. It could be by acting as a role model for others to follow or it could simply be putting in place the conditions, and removing the barriers, that allow your team to grow naturally.

3. How am I helping my organization to grow?

You need to think beyond your immediate team because one highly engaged team within an otherwise disengaged organisation is not going to stay engaged for very long. What is your involvement in the various committees in your workplace? Are you someone who makes suggestions and looks for ways to innovate? Do you get actively involved in change programs? How are you assisting the organisation to attract and retain good people, even outside your area of specialty? What relationships do you have with suppliers, competitors and others that might assist your organisation to grow?

4. How am I helping my industry to grow?

If you are passionate about your industry then you will want to see it prosper. Remember that the more jobs there are available in your industry, the more career options you have so playing your part in maintaining a healthy industry is in your own best interests. A good place to start is by being actively involved in the relevant industry associations that represent you or as a media commentator in your field.

5. How am I helping my occupation to grow?

Even broader than industry involvement is the desire of an engaged leader to see their occupation grow and develop. This could mean getting involved in the relevant specialist professional association or a more general association such as the Australian Institute of Management ( It could also mean offering to help young people entering the occupation via teaching at University or TAFE or by offering work experience to school students considering the occupation for their own career.