What is the QBQ? The QBQ is a tool that helps leaders at all levels practice personal accountability by asking better questions and making better choices in the moment. In other words, you can probe your own understanding with questions you deliberately craft to diagnose what is really going on, and how you can be accountable and fix it.
When you are confronted with an unpleasant problem, it is natural to ask yourself, “Why does everything bad happen to me?” or “Why do I always have to correct other people’s mistakes?” However, such questions focus on the external nature of a situation when it is far more productive to shoulder personal accountability and focus on the problem’s internal aspects.
To shift your paradigm, use a QBQ.
For instance, ask, “What can I do to improve the situation?” or “How did I contribute to the problem?” To put this approach to work, carry out these three steps:
- Ask yourself questions that begin with “what” or “how.”
- Make sure your questions contain the word “I,” instead of “they” or “you.”
- Pose questions that focus on taking action.
When you play the “blame game,” you are not really looking for a solution. Instead, you are feeling sorry for yourself, blaming others and waiting for someone else to make things better. To put yourself in charge, become personally accountable. This transformation begins when you ask more astute questions. For example, instead of grumbling, “Why did I lose the sale?” Try asking the QBQ, “Where did I fail to serve my customer?” Now you have kindled a light on your path, and you are ready to put the five advantage principles to work.
Advantage Principle One: Learning
When you adopt a learning mindset, you allow yourself to change and grow, reach your goals and evolve into a better person. At work, learning helps individuals, teams and organizations become more creative, flexible and productive. The act of learning makes you feel energetic, passionate and renewed.
Advantage Principle Two: Ownership
When you take ownership of a situation, you are exhibiting the essence of personal accountability. Taking ownership opens the door to finding solutions. Instead of making excuses, whining, pointing fingers or justifying your behavior with excuses, face challenges directly. Mistakes will happen; problems will arise. Taking ownership allows you to move the emphasis away from the problem so you can refocus on taking action.
Advantage Principle Three: Creativity
People often use the word “creativity” in the context of ability in the arts, but searching for fresh ways to achieve your objectives is also creative. When you think creatively, you continue to work to find new solutions, even past the point where other people give up.
Advantage Principle Four: Service
When you provide service to a customer, you represent your company. Often, the impression that a customer service representative makes, good or bad, is the only impression that the customer receives or retains. Real service is based on personal connection.
A supervisor who offers heartfelt service to his or her staffers is called a “servant leader.”
Servant leaders help others reach their goals. They provide positive reinforcement and believe in their employees’ ability to excel.
Advantage Principle Five: Trust
Trust is the foundation of any strong relationship at work and at home. Given trust, people are more productive, creative and collaborative. To generate trust in your relationship with another person, ask yourself, “What can I do to understand your point of view?”
Trust is harder to create or measure in a corporate setting. Two signs can alert you that trust is eroding in your organization: reticence and suspicion. When your employees are unable or unwilling to speak freely, to offer suggestions or to explain their concerns, then your organization has a trust problem.
Instead of asking, “Why won’t my staff open up?” try to inquire, “How can I build their confidence in me?” or “What can I do to support the organization?”
Keep the QBQ method written out on your desk or journal, so next time you find yourself displacing accountability, you can take control and take steps towards change.