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  • Writer's pictureCarole Stizza

The One Question Every Leader Needs to Ask

How often do you ask “What is going right?”

As a leader, one of the most important things you can do is ask "What is going right?"

This question is imperative, as it allows you to focus on the positive aspects of your team and organization.

When does this question help the most?

When things are going wrong, it's easy to get wrapped up in the negative and lose sight of what's working. By asking this question regularly, you'll be able to stay positive and focused on what needs to be improved. Additionally, your team will feel appreciated and motivated to continue doing their best work.

How does this work?

Meet Brian, an expert in confidently laying out the problem to work through. He often uses our time together to lay a problem out and I ask questions to challenge his thinking. On this day, as we walk into his office, I could tell he had a lot to share as he had a very serious look.

We settle in and I asked, “Brian, I’d like to start our session with you sharing what is going right - before we discuss problems today.”

The contrast between what he was ready to share and what I was asking caused him to stop. You could see his brain’s gears grinding to a halt.

My question took him by surprise.

Why does this work?

Considering what is going right is new territory, 75% of all messaging that we receive every day is negative. Only 25% is positive. This was exactly why I asked this of him.

Shifting the brain from problem-solving to considering what is going right can feel a lot like moving furniture. You push, you pull, and you heave things out of the way. Then, when you have created a new space, everything looks different.

‘What is going right’ creates new space for things to look different.

The reaction

Brian’s answer came slow at first, but within two minutes of the conversation, Brian’s posture relaxed, and the lines on his face eased. He took time to breathe more evenly. He even smiled at one point while sharing a funny story from the day before. Then he looked at me. “I’m starting to see the problems I wanted to share in a different light. Yesterday, my technician offered a solution I dismissed because I still thought the problem was bigger than I see it now and now I realize that she may have the solution.”

That’s the point!

By identifying, honoring, and being reminded about what is going right, you recalibrate the way you think about the negative. It does not take away the problem. It puts the problem in a better perspective.

So, the next time you're feeling overwhelmed or negative, take a step back and ask yourself, "What is going right?" You might be surprised at how much clearer you can think afterward.


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