Curiosity is one of our greatest gifts as leaders- and just so happens to be one of our most underused skills. How often do we take the time to sit and really listen to another person’s wants and needs- without judging, without dismissing, without getting distracted by the voices in our head or the ringing of our phones?

The following are three questions that can help us understand the needs of others, giving us a great starting point for strengthening our relationships. Ask them in a conversation, ask them in an email, ask them on a drive (travel time is like a rolling relationship builder), or ask them while waiting in line. Most of all, ask them then pay attention; really listen to the answers and they will uncover plenty of useful nuggets. Stay curious and you will be glad you did.

What inspires you?

This question reveals a lot about another person… what they value, what energizes them, and how you can light them up (choosing to do so is up to you).

When are you at your best?

Similar to inspiration, this question uncovers what environments people thrive in, as well as what they believe their strengths are. The answer may surprise you.

What’s one thing I can do to be more effective with you?

This is a scary question to ask, because it’s feedback, which takes both courage to hear and courage to share. This is a great question to ask again and again- as the first answer you get may be a surface, safe answer, as opposed to a real and powerful one.

Asking and really listening are only part of the equation of course- you have to act on what you learn to make a difference.



Tom Epperson

Tom Epperson

Dr. Tom Epperson is the President of InnerWill, and an instructor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Executive MBA program. Tom is a certified business coach and has a Doctorate in Leadership from The George Washington University. Tom works with clients on cultural transformation, leadership development, executive coaching, and igniting individual and organizational potential. Previously, Tom served as the HR Director for Luck Companies, and played a significant role as one of the architects of Luck Companies’ cultural transformation.

close slider

    Subscribe to the InnerWill email for inspirational stories and tips on how to build engagement, trust, and success at work and beyond – delivered right to your inbox every Monday morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.