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Clever Questions - What is important?


There is a sense that leaders should know all the answers. In reality, of course, it is just not the case. In fact, the sooner we admit that we don’t know all the answers, the more chance we have of not making mistakes. We have already seen in our first two blogs this month that ‘I don’t know everything’ and ‘I don’t know what it is like to be in their shoes' and this can be helpful as it causes us to ask questions which can empower us.


This week we come to the mystery of situations. Sometimes things happen and we don’t know immediately what is the real cause for them. It is in these moments that the simple question can help us to explore what sits at the root of the issue:


What is important?


What is important? It explores the issues

Imagine a situation where ten customers all complain about your service. It feels out of the blue and you wonder what is going wrong. It is not obvious to you, so ask the question, “What is important?”


What is important to your customers?

What is important for you?

What is important for your staff?


As you ask this question it enables you to consider the key things for each stakeholder. In doing so, it enables you to peel back the issues to see what is at the heart of things. It allows you to drill down to the important issue.


What is important to the customer?

Their complaints highlighted a lack of personalised service. They want to be valued.


What is important to you?

You want customers to get the best experience and come back.


What is important to your staff?

They want to enjoy the job. They want the right equipment to bring a great experience to the customer.


Once you have asked that of each section, you look for the common theme. What holds them together? What is the common thread? In our example, it is the golden thread of a ‘personalised service’.


What is important about that? Gets to the heart of the issue

The next stage is to ask

What is important about that?


Take our example and we have a golden thread of 'personalised service'. Ask what is important about that?

  • For the customer – it makes them feel valued, that it is a relationship and not transactional.

  • For you – it keeps the customer coming back because it is more like family than a transaction.

  • For staff – it means the job can have meaning. They are making a difference to people.


Do the same again. What is the thread?

In our example, it is the thread of relationship.


What is important to make it happen? Gets to the important things

So now ask the question, what is important to make that happen?

In our example

  • There needs to be a clear direction that everyone knows that this organisation is about relationship

  • Staff with the right relationship mindset

  • Staff need to be equipped with skills to build relationships.

  • Staff need the processes and resources to help make sure the relationship can be maintained


Review these. What is in place? What seems weak? What do staff tell you they need? What have customers told you their experience has been like?


What is important to focus on? Gets to the heart of the solution

What is important to focus on? Is the final important question. Look at what one thing you can put energy in out of these ‘make it happen’ areas to improve.

A quick glance in this example and it soon becomes apparent that some recent appointments didn’t have the relationship mindset and so a) tightening of recruitment processes are needed and b) some training on building relationships with customers is where to focus.


So, if you are not sure what is causing an issue, ask the ‘what is important?’ questions.


What is important?

What is important about that?

What is important to make it happen?

What is important to focus on?




Can we help you?

We hope this blog has been helpful and if you would like some more targeted support to explore what you don’t know then Everyday Leader is here to help you. Our clients find their coaching empowering, as we help them gain a full perspective and find a way forward. If you have a challenge and you would like our support, then do get in contact with us. Give us a call on 01449 710438 or email colin@everydayleader.co.uk if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you.


Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you. If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, training or consultancy, do let us know. Contact us now: colin@everydayleader.co.uk


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