March 20, 2020

Ask a better question


How to lead when you feel anxious and uncertain; start by leading yourself

Whether you realise it or not, your brain is asking and answering questions all day long. If you are feeling uncertain or anxious, you can bet that most of your questions are unhelpful.

Why am I feeling anxious? What if the situation gets worse? What if our customers leave? Of course, worst-case scenario planning has its place, but each of these questions is perfectly designed to induce feelings of worry, fear and uncertainty. If you’re asking them habitually, consciously or unconsciously, you’re going to find it very difficult to lead effectively.

The good news is that you can alter your emotional state, and your outcomes, just by asking a better question. Here are a few of my favourites:

  • What is the best outcome from here? 
    In the first instance, this question works because it assumes there is an outcome. Even more importantly, it assumes we accept where “here” is. We may not like the situation, but we accept it as our reality. We don’t spend any time in regret, blame or victimization.
  • How can I use this situation to learn and grow?
    At the gym, we accept that to build new muscles we need to lift heavier weights. It’s the same with leadership. This question works because it takes our attention beyond the situation and places it on the process of learning. We no longer dread the situation; we embrace it because it represents an opportunity to develop new leadership muscles.
  • How can I serve others right now? 
    Service is a noble pursuit, perhaps the most noble. To be in service of others is to live our purpose and influence others towards theirs. It’s also very difficult to experience anxiety when we’re focused on serving others for the simple reason that we must shift our attention from “me/my worries” to “them/their needs.”
Dr. Peter Fuda

Dr. Peter Fuda

Dr. Peter Fuda has been a Sherpa to leaders, teams and organizations across the globe as a consultant, coach, author, researcher, speaker and professor of management. VistaJet partners with leadership expert Dr Peter Fuda to support you during times of uncertainty.