Courageous Conversations

by ALLC Core Team

There’s no doubt about it…. leadership requires a lot of courage.  Courage to listen to God instead of depending on yourself.  Courage to obey whatever God tells you.  And courage to deal with the messiness of leading and developing others.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

One of the best ways to develop others is to engage them in conversations.  By definition, having a ‘conversation’ implies that both parties take turns speaking and listening.  And one of the most powerful ways to encourage healthy conversations is to ask good questions.

Below are 6 powerful questions you can use periodically to engage in courageous conversations with the people you lead.  Each question encourages open and honest communication about your ministry, your staff member, and yourself as a leader.   And the end goal of these questions is to help you develop your ministry, your staff member, and yourself!

Beware…. These questions truly require courage to ask.  Are you open minded and secure enough to consider your staff’s answers?  If so, you are well positioned to see real breakthroughs in your ministry, your staff, and your own leadership effectiveness!

6 Courageous Questions as Conversation Starters:

Where are we going?

This question refers to what direction the staff member sees the ministry going. Is it a positive or negative direction?  Does he even know what the ministry is trying to achieve?  What do you need to clarify with this person about the direction of the ministry?  What can you learn from this person’s perspective?

Where are you going?

This question encourages your staff member to seek God about his/her own personal vision and direction.  This question also helps you to understand if this person’s vision and goals are in alignment with your ministry’s purpose, as well as if the person’s role on the team is still a good fit.  How can you adjust this person’s role to best match his/her personal vision and purpose with a felt need on your team?  How you can you help coach, mentor and direct this person to move toward God’s calling on his/her life (even if it means that s/he should consider leaving your team)?

What are you doing well?

This is a reflective question that gives you insight about how aware the person is about her own performance. What do you agree with?  What would you add?  What can you thank and encourage her about?

How could you improve?

This is another reflective question that gives you additional insight about how aware the person is about deficiencies with his performance.  What do you agree with?  What would you add?

How can I help?

This is a simple way to offer your help and assistance to the person.  It gives the person reassurance that you are on her side and want her to succeed.  Make sure to consider what she says and decide what you will actually do to help.

How can I be a better leader?

This is your opportunity to learn and grow from your staff.  It is a perfect chance to demonstrate and role model a commitment to lifelong learning.  Humbling yourself to ask this question will undoubtedly make an impactful positive impression on nearly any staff member.  Make sure to thank the person for his input, pray about his input at a later time, and then decide what action you will take.

Your Test of Courage:


Note:  Credit for these 6 powerful questions goes to Marshall Goldsmith.  Click below to watch a 6-minute video of Marshall explaining how to use these questions with leadership coaching:


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