They say there's no such thing as a stupid question, but not all questions are created equal.
Want your manager to know you're a natural-born leader? Ask good questions. It shows a genuine curiosity, the ability to ask for clarification or feedback, and, most importantly, interest. Need some inspiration? Try out these three.
1. I really want to do well on this assignment. Do you have any templates I could reference, or anyone who's done an awesome job recently that I could talk to?
This question demonstrates not only attention to detail and a commitment to excellence but also the willingness to ask for help. Those are qualities every leader should flex. It also tells your boss you're interested in performing to their standards without asking them to hold your hand, showing a respect for their time and other priorities. This helps your boss understand that you know the real role of a leader — empowering direct reports to succeed without micromanaging them.
2. I'm really interested in this topic that I've been learning a lot about recently. Could we keep that in mind while assigning projects over the next few months?
Showing interest and initiative in your role is never a bad thing. But tying your desire to work on a specific type of project to skills or knowledge you've been developing recently shows your boss you aren't just interested in your interests — you're interested in what's best for the business. Plus, asking your boss to keep an open mind over a series of months versus asking for a role on a specific project is a little less forward, allowing traditional hierarchies to exist while still wiggling your way to what you want. We call that a win-win.
3. I'm really excited about the work we've been doing. What is your biggest challenge surrounding it right now and how could I help?
Asking this question demonstrates multiple qualities managers are looking for in leaders. Not only does it show that you're interested in mitigating risk even when things are going smoothly, it also shows that you're willing to brainstorm and talk about your work at a higher level and fill in gaps where necessary. Humility is an abundant quality in leaders, as is feeling for peoples concerns, and this question hits on both.