Leaders “Must Read” (#1) QBQ!


This is an unsolicited, unpaid review of this book.  I write this simply because it is a great book that all leaders should read!

I want to share with you some of the great books that all leaders should have in their personal libraries, and I am starting with my absolute favorite, QBQ! by John G. Miller. This book was given to me by my father while I was in my MBA program back in 2007. Since then, I have purchased more copies of the book than I can remember and passed them out to all of my management and many of the associates in my departments. I re-read this book often and find value in doing so every time. This book is an essential component to any leader’s collection.

The topic of the book is Personal Accountability, a quality that needs significant understanding and practice in today’s workplace and society.  The “Question behind the Question” (QBQ) is the question we ask after we have dismissed the questions that place blame on someone else, complain, procrastinate, or play the victim.  They are the questions we ask when we take ownership of the solution to a problem, when we make better choices.

Here are John’s 3 rules for asking QBQs:

  1. Begin with “What” or “How” (not “Why,””When,” or “Who”)
  2. Contains an “I” (not “they”,”we,” or “you”)
  3. Focus on action

In order to show QBQs and personal accountability, here are some lousy questions, followed by a QBQ (from the book):

“When will other people pull their weight?” becomes “What can I do to improve the situation?”

“Why aren’t my people motivated?” becomes “What can I do to build engagement and excitement for my staff?”

“Why don’t they tell us what is going on?” becomes “What can I do to ensure I have the knowledge I need?”

Hopefully you can see the power this brings to an individual. Instead of giving away control it puts the power directly into an individual’s hands to fix the situation. As John points out, the only person we can ever change is ourselves. When we don’t own our situations, there is nothing to be done! Nothing will ever improve.

In my experience, this is a hard habit to build. It is so much easier to blame, to play the victim, to explain our current circumstances in terms of what has happened to us instead of what we have done. But it is necessary. We must take control back and ask the questions that have the ability to improve ourselves and our world.

John says, “We need the QBQ so our organizations can be places where, instead of finger-pointing, procrastinating, and separating ourselves into “we” and “they,” we bring out the best in each other, work together the way teams are supposed to, and make great things happen.”

I highly encourage you to check out this important book, use QBQs in your life, and as a leader, teach your teams to do the same!

One other suggestion: I linked to the book on Amazon.com above, and encourage you to use Amazon Smiles so that part of your purchase benefits a non-profit of your choice.  Yet another way to make the world a better place!

Happy Friday!  Keep it positive, and smile!


2 Comments Leaders “Must Read” (#1) QBQ!

  1. Gloria

    Thank you for that review! This book had not made it to my list of desirable reads, but I am now intrigued. I will definitely add it to my collection!

  2. Pingback: Tips for making that tough decision | melindasleadership

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