The 2 Questions Effective Leaders Ask Before Going Into a Meeting

Questions Effective Leaders Ask

You’re walking down the hallway, going to a meeting with a bunch of people who don’t necessarily get along in the same space.  This is one of those times you wish your executive coach was right there with you.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you just had that outsider guiding you to see things more clearly?

The good news is we can call on mentors 24 hours a day.  Maybe not literally, but in essence you already possess the knowledge you need to walk into this meeting.  Your mentors and coaches have already worked with you and have given you the tools to utterly succeed at your leadership role.  You just have to step outside yourself and ask, WWMMD (What would my mentor do?).

Larry Seal, the CEO of EngagedLeadership, taught me this following little nugget and I use it several times a week.  “Imagine I’m sitting on your shoulder, you’re going into your meeting and I ask you two questions:  

1) What do YOU need to get out of this meeting?
2) What do THEY need to get out of this meeting?”   

Asking powerful questions like this is a one-two punch.  You have something that needs to get done and you know that the people you are leading need something too.  Maybe it’s motivation, maybe it’s clarity, maybe it’s pressure taken off of them.  In business, we just have to get stuff done and the best way to get things done is to know what YOU need & what THEY need.

YOUR task might be to increase the number of calls that are going out every hour in your call center.

THEIR needs are motivation.  Your staff needs a clear understanding of how close they are to receiving recognition for doing a good job.

It’s far too easy to just focus ONLY on what YOU need (The Task).  Part of leading is remembering that the people in the room NEED something too.  In fact, as an effective leader, they are going to look to you for that “something.”  You just need to figure out, before you walk into that meeting, what that need is.

And even if you are WRONG, at least you are walking in with some form of intention, which is better than most of the leaders who came before you in the life of your team.

So, the next time you’re walking down the hall going into that meeting, think of your mentor or coach sitting on your shoulder asking you:  

1) What do YOU need out of this meeting?
2) What do THEY need out of this meeting?

By asking those two questions, you’re balancing what the business needs and what your people need.  And, that balance is what makes an effective leader.


Michael Ian Cedar is a Coach at EngagedLeadership