Asking one simple question can lead to better decision-making, all around. Here it is:
“How does <topic in question> serve <object in question>?”
Yup. It’s that easy.
In my leadership coaching practice, clients tell me how hard it is to focus on issues and make decisions when things around them get emotionally charged. Asking just one question — how the topic you’re working with would serve you (or your team, or a specific person or thing) — can get to the heart of the issue, and get you closer to making a decision you can take action on.
Here are some examples of the “How Does It Serve?” question in practice, with some ideas on how the question might be answered.
Q: How does asking Chris and Pat to draft an agenda for the meeting serve them?
A: It’ll add to their workloads, but it would really help with their development goals.
Q: How does this team building exercise serve my leadership vision?
A: My leadership vision includes having the team work well together, and since this exercise is about communications styles, it could really help.
Q: How does my correcting a team member’s error during a staff meeting serve my team?
A: The team would know that the error was indeed an error, but they might be reluctant to speak up in meetings, knowing they could be corrected in front of the group. And it might impact team morale.
Q: How does giving negative performance feedback serve my employee?
A: The employee will be really uncomfortable, and so will I. And having this discussion lets the employee know that things aren’t going according to plan (they may not know), and gives them specific information about how to change their performance to meet my expectations.
Q: How does eating this bagel serve me?
A: It’s delicious! And super-not on my low-carb diet plan.
Of course, these are just examples, and not meant to substitute for your own leadership judgement (especially about the bagel!).
Which One Question will you ask first? Tell us in the comments below!
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