7 Questions Every Leader Must Ask Their People

How do your people think you’re doing as a leader and a boss?

Do you know?

If you’re getting results, then why should you even care? So goes the manager – not leader thinking.

For all the books written, speeches given, podcasts broadcast, there are still people in leadership positions who manage versus lead.

I’m sure you’re not one of them, but how can you be sure?

Even the best of leaders have blind spots, hence the need for 360 degree feedback. But that’s just a snap shot once a year.

How are you doing in between the formal reviews? I guarantee your people have an opinion and you need to hear what it is.

7 Questions Every Leader Must Ask Their People

1. What have been some of the best times you have had at work this past year?

This question will help you to get a quick glance into the mind and perspective of your people. Starting with this question will wake them up because they’re not expecting to be asked this, especially first. Using this question first, causes your people to slow down and engage the deeper thinking processes of their brains. It will help the rest of their answers to be more thought out and therefore helpful to you.

Note: If they can’t think of any good times – huge red flag right out of the gates.

The best leaders keep a pulse on their people and their organization.

2. If you had to give me some advice on how to be a better leader, what would it be and why?

You’re putting yourself out there with this question but it’s necessary. Your people already have an opinion about your leadership style and it’s possible that everyone in the office knows it except you. When you open yourself up for feedback, you’re asking how you can improve and your people will respect that. This will be foundational to improving as a leader.

Confident leaders continually learn, grow and develop.

3. What are some of the things that are making you anxious, fearful or discouraged about your work?

When people are feeling anxious, fearful or discouraged, they don’t produce their best work and they’re not the best team players. Many times these feelings are rooted in an erroneous perception, but sometimes they’re a reflection of reality. You can clear up miscommunication and gain a deeper understanding into what makes your people tick. Armed with this knowledge, you learn better how to communicate, create an environment free of fear and create meaningful, engaging work opportunities where your people thrive.

Emotions are the frequent drivers of behavior.

4. In your opinion, how can I better support you and the team?

This question will give you an outside perspective on your impact on the team as a whole. Your management style may be effective for some but not for others. This will show you how the team operates collectively in the environment you create.

The greatest leader of all didn’t come to be served but to serve. That’s the job of leadership.

5. What has been the best thing I have done this last year that has helped you to grow professionally?

If you’re not helping your people to be great leaders themselves, you’re in the wrong position and may be better suited to work in a solitary role. People hunger for the opportunity to be challenged and grow. If they’ve lost that fire, you may be the cause.

Great leaders, produce more leaders.

6. What would you say is my number one priority at work?

We all think our people know what’s important, but have we done a good job of communicating it? Every interaction should further underscore the same priorities, the important few items that will drive the business forward. This answer should include people as a priority. Results are definitely a priority, but never at the expense of the people working to get the results.

People can tell what’s important to you by what you do, more than by what you say.

7. If you could make one change in your work environment that would help you to do your job better, what would it be?

Our environment has a big impact on our ability to produce our very best work. The spaces we occupy make us feel a certain way. If our environment makes us feel peaceful, yet encouraged and motivated, we will do better work. If our environment makes us feel anxious, skittish or demoralized, our work suffers.

Employees who enjoy and like the environments they are a part of will be more engaged, productive, happy, and healthy. ~ Forbes

As a leader, it’s important that you keep tabs on your performance and how you’re impacting your team. Are you empowering your team or demoralizing them? Do they want to come to work or celebrate Fridays and dread Mondays? You create the tone of the organization. Make it a point to create a tone of excitement and engagement so your people want to be there.

As a side note, these questions can be rephrased and used at home as well. Use them with your spouse and children so you can lead well at home as well as at work.

What other questions would you add to this short list?

When will you use these questions and with whom?

Copyright © 2017 Kaylene Mathews. All rights reserved.


About Kaylene

Kaylene Mathews, MBA, equips and empowers individuals and groups to gain the clarity they need to achieve their personal and professional best through keynotes, coaching and training services. She authors a weekly blog, and a monthly newsletter. She is currently working on her second book. Her first book is available on Amazon.


  • Terri Klass says:

    Love your questions Kaylene! They are very empowering and could help many leaders and their teams realign to be stronger and better. I especially relate to number 4- In your opinion, how can I better support you and the team? When leaders offer themselves openly, they will be more likely to understand how to better support their team. Working with team leaders I find they care but are sometimes fearful of honest feedback. Maybe if we look at feedback as a gift rather than a negative, we can be more impactful and develop deeper relationships.

    Thanks Kaylen for a wonderful post!

    • Kaylene Kaylene says:

      Agree Terri – it can be scary putting yourself out there and changing perspective to view feedback as a gift rather than a negative will transform the leader and the team. Thanks for your comment! ~ Kaylene