POSTER: Who Owns It? Questions That Build Ownership - Neverboss

POSTER: Who Owns It? Questions That Build Ownership

Judge Leaders by their questions, not their answers. -Kevin Crenshaw

Great Leaders Ask Great Questions

Great leaders ask questions that inspire others to FEEL, THINK, and take INITIATIVE.​ When people do those things on their own, they OWN it instead of their boss, and they become leaders.

INSTRUCTIONS: Click this diagram to download in PDF format. It's also available as a JPG file. Print it. Post it or carry it with you to ask great questions. The goal is to help others FEEL ownership, THINK about solutions, and take ACTION on their own.

Related ACTIONS from the book appear below the poster image.

Click Image to Get the Poster...

Who OWNS it? Questions that build ownership.


CHAPTER: Who Feels the Pain?

ACTION: Inspire FEELING by Changing What You Say

As a team, look for broken feedback loops. Specifically, list places where mistakes impact others who then want to step in.

Now divide these situations into two groups: 1) broken processes, which automatically pass pain to the wrong person, bypassing the right person, and 2) everything else. Fixing broken processes is straightforward: just uncross the wires. However, the second group is usually about overbearing leadership, which steals ownership and prevents others from feeling the pain.

Role-play one of those situations the way it usually happens, in your usual roles. Is someone—usually a leader—telling, lecturing, needling, reminding, or similar?

Now role play it again using the "Who is FEELING?" questions on page ___ instead. These questions help others feel the impact, develop empathy, and start to find motivation. Repeat for some other situations.

Afterwards, ask each other: What change happened when we asked these questions instead of "taking charge" and telling or lecturing? What did we each FEEL when we made that change?

CHAPTER: Who Feels the Reward?

ACTION: Measure How Often You Give Orders​

The best motivator for modern workers is feeling accomplishment and achievement, including finding solutions to real problems. We kill that motivation when we tell people what to do.

Measure your own order-giving for a meeting or a day. This will help you because "what we measure, improves." Give a 3x5 card to (a) direct report(s) or co-worker(s) and ask them to make a mark (or jot down what you said) every time they hear you telling, reminding, giving an order, or giving advice instead of asking and listening first. You can make it a competition if you like!

Afterwards, ask each other: were you surprised by the results?

HINT: To avoid giving orders, print out the chart above and carry it with you. Or order the wallet cards from the Neverboss store and carry those.

CHAPTER: Who's Doing the Thinking?

ACTION: Inspire THINKING by Changing What You Say

Encourage others to think around you for the next 24 hours by asking the right kinds of questions instead of telling. Print out the chart above and carry it with you. The paper will remind you. Use those questions when any problem comes up that someone else should own. Questions like that build leadership in others and shift problem-solving down the hierarchy, to people with more information and ability to respond faster.

Create a phone alarm to ask yourself at the end of the day: How did I do at asking these questions? What happened when I did?

TIP: These questions are also available on a compact plastic wallet card in the Neverboss store. You can clip that card to your security badge, facing outward, to encourage FEELING, THINKING, and ACTION in those around you. Try it and see how they respond.

CHAPTER: Who's Taking Initiative?

ACTION: Inspire INITIATIVE by Changing What You Say​

When you ask questions to inspire FEELING and THINKING you start to build leaders who take ownership because you are jumpstarting hearts and minds. The final step in that progression is INITIATIVE.

Starting now, note carefully how people respond as you encourage FEELING and THINKING. As they THINK, start asking the questions to inspire INITIATIVE from the chart above. If they aren't sure how to respond, that's OK, just drop back down to THINKING or FEELING questions temporarily, as needed, or provide clarification or training if that's what holds them back.

Set an appointment in your calendar (or smartphone alarm) at the end of the day to answer these questions:

  • How many times today did you get to ask INITIATIVE questions?
  • How did people respond when you did?
  • How did it feel?

CHAPTER: Redefining Pride

ACTION: Redefine Your Pride

​Create a list of aspects of your job that you are proud of. These should be actions you undertake or lead. Now redefine each item—the goal is to phrase your successes in terms of what your team is accomplishing, rather than what you do personally or make your team do. Make sure you aren’t taking the thrill of creation away from your workers, but recenter your satisfaction in seeing them succeed.

Re-read the list. Imagine them actually doing those things on their own initiative. How will it FEEL?​

Kevin Crenshaw

Kevin is The Instant COO™ and CEO of Priacta / Neverboss. He is the author of NEVERBOSS: Great Leadership by Letting Go. He's also a speaker, rapid empowerment consultant, and creator of Total Relaxed™ Organization. He loves people, leadership, coaching, speaking, tackling tough problems, and physics, but not usually all at once. :)