As the new year begins, many MSP owners are reflecting on their business and determining where adjustments need to be made. However, many owners overlook one crucial aspect to running a successful managed service business: their leadership. Now is the time to evaluate yourself as leader and focus on what changes you can make to lead an effective and engaged team.

Anyone can have a leadership title, but not everyone truly leads. Being a leader is more than just being the CEO of a company—a leader is someone who takes the time to add value to others. This month, we read Good Leaders Ask Great Questions by John C. Maxwell and gained some actionable insight to help you develop your leadership skills moving forward.

Good leadership starts within

Tony Robbins once said: “Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result they get better answers.” Before you can develop your team and dive deeper into how you can help them reach their potential and their goals, you must first ask yourself questions to help shape your motivations and desire to be a leader.

To help set you on a path to leadership success, Maxwell suggests asking yourself the following questions. Am investing in myself? Am I adding value to my team? Am I taking care of today? These few questions are essential to developing yourself as a leader.

Am I investing in myself? Maxwell explains that this is a question of personal growth—you should never be complacent about where you are. Whether you’re building new skills or developing your leadership ability by helping others build theirs, you should always be adding some sort of value to yourself. The first step to becoming a good leader is realizing your potential to grow and help others. 

Take a step back, and look at your current position. Are you an IT manager stuck focusing on day-to-day management? Are you helping your team build their careers? Are you continually learning new skills? Take the time to sit down and ask yourself these questions, and think about where you want to be in the next five or 10 years. What does your growth path look like? How can you get there?

Am I adding value to my team? Teamwork is an essential part of achieving common goals within your organization. On a consistent—or daily—basis ask yourself what you can do to add value to your team and promote teamwork. In the book, Maxwell explains it this way: “If you are a leader, the true measure of your success if not getting people to work. It’s not getting people to work hard. It is getting people to work hard together.”

At your IT business, are you doing everything you can to add value to your team? Are you investing in their goals or ambitions? Are you giving them the right platform to be successful? What could you do differently to promote growth within your organization? Leadership is about adding value for your people and helping them achieve their goals and dreams. Sit down with team members one on one and ask them about what they want to accomplish. Then, think about how you can help them get there.

“Good leaders focus on the needs and wants of their people, and as far as it is within their power, they make their people’s hopes and dreams a priority,” Maxwell writes. Whether you’re a team of two or a team of 200, you need to invest in the goals of your key players.  

Am I taking care of today? Often, leaders are so busy planning for the future that they forget what they need to accomplish in the moment. While it’s important to have a vision, good leaders are grounded and aware of what is happening now. Are all your bases covered? Are your technicians and staff getting what they need from you today?

Think about the last time you checked in with your IT service team. When was the last time you asked them what they think? How you can help them? What do you need to communicate? These questions can help you not only effectively lead you team, but gauge where you might need to improve as a leader. Is there a way you can change your approach to be more effective in your communications or meetings? Without asking questions, you’ll never get answers.

Becoming a better leader might not happen overnight, but taking daily steps and reflecting on where you can improve can help you make progress. Leadership starts with you, but you need to be able to ask the right questions in order to guide your IT services team in the right direction. After all, a question that never gets asked will never get answered.

Good Leaders Ask Great Questions

Your Foundation for Successful Leadership

By John C. Maxwell

304 pages. Center Street. $14.64.

Have suggestions for what we should read next? Tell us which book we should read next on our MSP bookshelf.

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Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is an Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Barracuda MSP. In this position, she creates and develops content that helps managed service providers grow their business. She also regularly writes The MSP’s Bookshelf and our Ask an MSP Expert column.

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