Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership (2014), Book Review

Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership (2014)
by John C. Maxwell

John C. Maxwell, my long-distant mentor in leadership, writes, “Good leaders ask great questions that inspire others to dream more, think more, learn more, do more, and become more.” That’s exactly what this book had done to me! This book is filled with great questions and good answers. When this book was published, John was 67-year-old. This is the product – the book that every young leader should read – of his 40 years in leadership. Imagine John’s experiences (so far) as a leader, writer, trainer, speaker and mentor crunch into a solid book that can be read like a textbook on leadership. I can’t finish reading a book like this and say, “I get it,” because it is not wisdom until I put it into practice. Surely, I will come back to this book when I have questions in leadership…. which I will refer to a lot in the future, I foresee. Og Mandino reminds us, “Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.

If you want to be successful and reach your leadership potential,” writes John, “you need to embrace asking questions as a lifestyle.” Why? John Maxwell outlines Eight (8) Values of Questions:

#1 You Only Get Answers to the Questions You Ask
#2 Questions Unlock and Open Doors that Otherwise Remain Closed
#3 Questions Are the Most Effective Means of Connecting with People
#4 Questions Cultivate Humility
#5 Questions Help You to Engage Others in Conversation
#6 Questions Allow Us to Build Better Ideas
#7 Questions Give Us a Different Perspective
#8 Questions Challenge Mind-Sets and Get You Out of Ruts

I love asking questions. Because of my inner curiosity, on average, I read one book and listen to one audiobook per week, watch a documentary or talk/seminar at least once per month, listen to podcasts on various topics, and more, and continue to do so because I love to gain knowledge. The fact that I never stop learning is because I never stop asking questions. I know some friends, colleagues, and students who pretend to know-it-all doesn’t ask questions when they need to. As a result, they left behind in their thinking and leadership. Anthony Robbins observed, “Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” So true! John said that questions have changed his life. In Part 1, he outlines questions others asked him, questions that he asked that changed his life, questions that he asked himself as a leader, and questions that he asked his team members. This part is worth reading all over again! John summarises, “Questions have power when I look back at the progression of my life, I can see that questions have marked the way for my growth, prompted positive changes of direction, and let to many successes. Though many of us try to make ourselves look smart by giving clever answers, we would be much better off if we focused our attention on asking questions… Good questions inform; great questions transform.”

In Part 2, important and practical sections, John answers questions that leaders asked him. Questions such as what must leaders do to lead themselves successfully? How does leadership work? How does leaders-gonna-be get started in leadership?  How leaders resolve conflict and lead challenging people? How can leaders succeed in working under poor leadership? How can leaders successfully navigate leadership transitions? How can leaders develop other leaders? Within these questions, there are sub-questions that John deals with. I love the second last questions that John answers with this opening statement: “There’s only one way to lead leaders. Become a better leader yourself. Good leaders do not follow poor ones. People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves.” For each question, John basically says: start with yourself and to be a leader is to serve people. Superb! It’s true: Everything rises and falls on leadership. So the great question and request that everyone (believers) should ask is: “God, how should I lead?”

Good Leaders Ask Great Questions.

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