Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

G3: The Gift of You, Leadership, and Netgiving by Tim Cork.

This is a excerpt from G3: The Gift of You, Leadership, and Netgiving published with permission from author Tim Cork, ©2013. He is presently the president of Straight A's Inc., an international provider of leadership development, coaching and sales training.

"The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell.

The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask."

Story continues below advertisement

–Peter Drucker

Great leaders figure out the what and find out the why. It's the why of the what that is so critical. The why inspires and goes deeper.

Successful leaders inspire the why in their companies. [Howard] Schultz did this for Starbucks and [Steve] Jobs for Apple. The why gets the internal customers – your employees – fired up and excited about working for a company that stirs the emotion.

It isn't easy to get everyone to buy into the vision of what a company does; that's where the why should take over and make them proud to be a part of a company that makes a difference. When your employees are fired up, what do you think your customers will feel? They'll feel it, too.

People love Apple and people love Starbucks. These leaders and companies found the difference and have created fans internally and externally.

Don't tell, ask

Rudyard Kipling wrote, "I keep six honest serving-men / (They taught me all I knew); / Their names are What and Why and When / And How and Where and Who."

Story continues below advertisement

Ask good questions, and people will tell you what you want to tell them. They will feel good about the fact it came from them rather than you. Great leaders get this. They know that telling them denies their people the opportunity to express how they feel.

Good questions to ask are: How did you think that went? How did you feel about how that went? They will tell you. If you don't get the answer you were looking for as a leader, you can say, "Well, this is how I see it," or, "Yes, I see what you're saying, and I would like to add …"

Furthermore, people are tougher on themselves than you would be anyway. Give them a chance to critique themselves. Build from there only if you need to.

This is your opportunity to get your message in and, if necessary, give constructive feedback or reprimand. However, when you reprimand, do it in private. I shouldn't even have to say this, but unfortunately many leaders tear into employees or teams in meetings. This makes them look very unprofessional.

When all is said and done, you can ask this great question: What did you learn from that experience? This is a powerful question. These are times when you as a leader can teach and help your people and future leaders.

To tell is to take, to ask is to give

Story continues below advertisement

Most organizations and people are in the tell mode or take mode. Always ask first. Ask good questions. Get your people's opinions or perceptions and build from there. Ask: What do you think? How would you do this?What are your thoughts?

I end many of my e-mails with "Your thoughts?" rather than a direct question. It's polite and open. When you meet with others, find out what's important to them. Companies don't make decisions, people do.

When you start with a question, you give them the opportunity to voice what's important to them. Our tendency is to think that, when we talk, we control the situation. This is not true. The person who asks good questions and listens – whether in a court of law or a corporate setting or at home or in the community – controls the situation. Ask and listen. What a gift.

Woodrow Wilson said, "The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people." We have a tendency to tell. Why not ask, listen, and then build on what they say? It's so simple, yet very few of us do it.

Therefore it's not simple. Pause, take a breath, listen, and build. This is what G3, the art of giving, is all about.

Communication is a two-way street. What are they saying, and are they saying what they mean?

Story continues below advertisement

Ask great questions of others … and of yourself. Ask yourself, Am I where I thought I would be five years ago? Reflect on the last five years and look at how you've grown. Are you satisfied?

Ask how you're doing, often

Do you have a job description? Ask what your job is. What were you hired to do? Check frequently that you're doing what is expected. Check the paths you've helped carve out for your team or company. Leaders need to encourage their people to ask how they can help. Ask how yourself how you're doing. Ask how you can help others.

Your boss is your biggest customer. Your leader is your biggest customer. Ask what you need to be doing and why it is so important. …

Some good leadership questions

Here are some good questions to ask yourself:

Story continues below advertisement

What one thing would profoundly improve the way I work and how I live?

What needs to happen between now and the end of the next ninety days for me to feel that this is the best month/quarter of my work and personal life?

Who do I need to express appreciation to? Make a long list.

What would I like to improve, professionally and personally?

What could I be grateful for that I'm currently not grateful for?

How do I want to be remembered at my retirement party?

Story continues below advertisement

What will my legacy be?

Statistics tell us that 95 per cent of employees prefer to be asked questions than to be told what to do, according to Gary Cohen, author of Just Ask Leadership.

Communication always deserves to be probed. What are they saying? Are they saying what they mean? What should you say, and when, and how, and to whom? When should you respond? How should you respond? And on and on. Ask good questions and listen. The person asking the questions always controls the situation. Always!

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies