Julie Thorson

CAUTION: This isn’t your typical “read quickly and look away” blog. Today’s leadership blog is meant to make you think, get a bit uncomfortable and to challenge yourself. If you aren’t up for that, stop reading and go on to something else. However, if you are up for something that is going to make you invest in yourself, keep reading. Grab a pen and paper as you are reading, though, because this is an active blog with homework!

Chances are if you came up with 2020 resolutions, you either created new habits and are killing it or you’ve completely forgotten about them and are back to your old ways. So, it’s February now … let’s move on and settle into the new year. 

Over the past five years, I’ve become fascinated with leading through good questions.  I’ve tried very deliberately to practice this art, but it’s still a work in progress. It wasn’t until I had a recent conversation with a great friend in leadership that I truly realized how powerful this skill can be. (His question BTW was, “What is your biggest asset?”)

So, if you will indulge me, I would like to offer a few questions for you to wrestle with. You can approach this exercise a few ways. Read slowly and think about your answer before traveling to the next question. Or jot the questions down, struggle with them, journal on them, come back to them, bring them up in conversation, and use them for what they are meant to do — make you think!

  • Are you where you are supposed to be?
    • Why?
  • If you weren’t in your role, how would your organization look and feel?
    • What impact do you make? Today? Will your impact be felt in the future?
  • What do you bring to your role that no one else can?
  • What mistake have you made that was so embarrassing you hate to admit it happened?
    • What did you learn about yourself during that experience?
  • What are you genuinely most proud of as a leader?
    • Does anyone else know the answer to this question? If not, why not?
  • What is your biggest fear?
  • What is your greatest hope for yourself?

These certainly aren’t the only questions out there to provoke deep thinking. They are, however, ones that might offer insight you haven’t considered before. 

These are also great questions to ask your team members, after you have answered them yourself, of course. And date your responses because they will change over time, and that’s OK.

They can lead to self-discovery and self-awareness, and while that may feel touchy-feely and you think you don’t have time for them, they can be your biggest resource in unlocking your leadership potential. 

Happy struggling, and have fun settling in to 2020!

Julie Thorson was the 2018 recipient of the LeadingAge Dr. Herbert Shore Outstanding Mentor of the Year award. She is currently a coach for the Leading Age’s Larry Minnix Leadership Academy.  Her “Living Leadership” blog was named the 2016 “Best New Department” Bronze Award winner by the American Society of Health Publication Editors. The president and CEO of Friendship Haven, a life plan community in Fort Dodge, IA, Thorson is a coach’s daughter at heart. A former part-time nursing home social worker, she is a licensed nursing home administrator and recently completed Leading Age’s Leadership Educator Program.