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Three Simple Yet Powerful Leadership Questions

Three Simple Yet Powerful Leadership Questions

Written by Danielle Hargrove | Marketing & Communications Lead, Educate Plus | 19 July 2024

Have you ever taken the time to think about your personal why’? This concept was referred to in a podcast I listened to last weekend, relating to the book, Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Cashman. I have a keen interest in the development of leadership skills and behaviours, particularly in the case where these skills are applicable not only in leading others, but also in building personal leadership capabilities.

Cashman raised three quite simple, yet powerful questions which immediately intrigued me, and had me pondering for the remainder of the weekend …

The story goes, there was once a soldier who, with a rifle in hand, confronted a passer-by and demanded:

  • Who are you?
  • Where are you going?
  • Why are you going there?

These certainly sound like typical questions a soldier would ask. The story continues, that after reflecting on these questions, the passer-by offers to pay the soldier to continue challenging him with the same three questions, on a daily basis.

The moral of the story? The author explains that there is significant importance in regularly taking the time to pause in our busy routines, so that we can continually self-reflect, and ensure that we are on track to fulfil our own personal ‘why’.

How would you answer these questions?

From a leadership perspective, reflecting on these questions often leads to personal mastery and authenticity. Successful leaders know: 

  • Who they are; they leverage their strengths and acknowledge their weaknesses
  • Where they are going; they incorporate the practice of continual self-discovery and growth into their daily lives; and
  • Why they are going there; they value serving others and inspiring trust through authentic connection and understanding

These simple, yet profound questions could just as easily apply to a corporate perspective, because, at the heart of leadership, whether it’s guiding yourself, a team, an organisation or a community, is a deeply grounded sense of purpose and a strong understanding of the ‘why’.

So, take the time to ask yourself these questions to ensure that, as the second quarter of the year progresses, you have a clear sense of who you are (or who your organisation is), where you are headed, and importantly why are you going there… and keep challenging yourself with simple questions that focus your purpose.

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