The Question Great Leaders Ask

This past week we were challenged by Pastor Jason to listen to a podcast by Andy Stanley talking about this question that every great leader asks. After listening and thinking about it I wanted to share some thoughts with you guys…



As small group leaders we know the power of a great question.


Just think about it!


Think of that person that comes to mind when you think of a great leader. They ask questions that rock your world! Think of the first time you were challenged by THAT question by THAT person. Great questions are what turn a dull, dragging group study into a lively discussion that leaves people encouraged and excited. And ultimately it is the difference between good leaders and great leaders. 


Now you may be thinking to yourself…How do we ask great questions? What is the secret formula that turns my good questions into great questions? What you are really asking by asking that question is how can I not just be a good leader for my group, family, business, etc, but how can I be a GREAT leader?


Well I am going to answer your question with a question! (Because great leaders ask questions right??)


Just take a moment to ask yourself, as you think of that really great leader in the back of your mind…What would a great leader do?


What Would a Great Leader Do?


Before you leave this post and think to yourself…”wow that was a waste of my time just for that answer”, really ponder that question for a second.


Not very many of us would look at ourselves and say that we are great leaders, most of us would in fact say the opposite. But either way, we all have moments in our lives as leaders where we are faced with this question.


What would a great leader do?


Everyone probably has an opinion for your predicament, and there are other blog posts out there that would give you other advice, but at the end of the day you have the choice to be real with yourself and ask the question, “If I was (insert great leaders name), what would I do in this situation?” And the truth is even though none of us really consider ourselves to be in that category of great leaders, we almost immediately know the answer to our original problem when we ask it through this lens. And now we have to determine whether we are going to step up, or come up with an excuse as to why we can’t step up.


What this question actually does for you is a few things…



1. It takes emotions out of the equation.

When we are faced with a problem, most of the times emotions are running full blast along with it. Someone is either uncontrollably crying, relentlessly arguing, or completely afraid. Most of the time that’s how we are on the inside! But what this question does, if asked honestly, is take us to a place of objection. We can say I know this is how I am reacting, but how would a great leader respond to this without letting their emotions get in the way. The reason this is HUGE in your decision making, is when we are emotionally in an unstable state, we make unstable choices which are usually bad. This question is a good place to get our emotions to a stable place to make better choices.


2. It reveals our heart.

Sometimes we don’t want to admit what a great leader would do because on the inside we know we have made a selfish decision that a great leader would never make.


Those times where we cancel small group at the last minute because we want to finish those last couple of episodes on Netflix…(Of course none of us have ever thought of doing anything like that)


This questions brings to light how sometimes their is something best for my group, my family, or my business, and it directly conflicts with what’s best for me. Great leaders step up and sometimes have to take one for the team and it doesn’t always benefit you.


3. It shows us our weakness.

I have weaknesses, you have weaknesses, all God’s children got weaknesses! Some of us more than others…


What asking this question can also do for us is help us step beyond our weakness. You have heard people say before things like, “I’m just not a confrontational person…” or “I just can’t pray out loud in front of people, thats just not me…” And while those things may be true, sometimes we as leaders have to ask, What would a great leader do? Would a great leader confront this person about the sin in their lives because they love that person more than they care about their reputation? Would a great leader push past their insecurities to pray for their friends in times of need?


We all have strength’s and weaknesses as leaders but this question forces us to face our weaknesses and at least be real with ourselves about them. It is a powerful thing to know what you are good at, but even more powerful to know where you can improve in your leadership.


4. It gives us an opportunity to be courageous.

We have a lot of choices thrown at us every day and through that have to make many decisions. Statistics say that the average adult makes about 35,000 in a day!


No wonder you are tired all the time!


In the past hour you have made hundreds of decisions without even realizing it. And the truth is, a lot of those decisions were not the most courageous. When I think of great leaders I think of guys like William Wallace in the movie Braveheart, or a guy like Maximus Decimus Meridius in the movie Gladiator. Men who were extreme examples of bravery. We watch movies like that and can’t help but want to charge into battle despite unbeatable odds and be the hero, but when the movie ends and real life happens our mood changes. This question allows us to go back to that place despite our surroundings.




When preparing for your studies and thinking about how to love your group well as a leader, use this question as a tool. I believe it will help not only you, but your group grow in amazing ways!