Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Always Ask the Right Questions
Excerpted, by Art Kleiner in Strategy+Business, from chapter 2
Here’s how the process works. The day before meeting, your coworker brings you a list of five or six key objectives, detailing her progress on each. During the review on the following day, you simply assess the data and discuss how performance compares with objectives. Depending on the employee, this can be a short thirty-minute process, or take as long as two hours. [If you do this weekly or every day, as you might on a tight deadline or vital project, the meeting might last ten minutes. –Tony]
When an employee comes into your office, she should always bring a pen and paper and be required to take detailed minutes of the meeting. Once the meeting is over, the employee should make a photocopy of the minutes for your file. [This is a bit dated! Have the employee email a summary. For high value employees, use a (more…)
If you have thought about getting a coach, I suggest you start by clicking here to watch my eight minute video. I cover the most common questions of potential clients. The video is available in HD, so don’t hesitate to click the button for full screen.
For those who prefer reading to watching, here is (more…)
At Accelerent, I was lucky to meet the commander of the USS Cole and hear his story of the day his destroyer was nearly sunk by al-Qaeda. Kirk Lippold made clear that his ship was saved mostly because of how he led and trained his crew in the years prior to the attack, rather than by any dramatic decisions or heroics on October 12, 2000.
His “Five Pillars of Leadership” are:
• Personal Responsibility and Accountability
• Trust and Invest
• Professional Competence
He gave a thrilling and informative presentation. I particularly thanked him for illustrating the masterful use of chain of command, maximizing his impact as a leader by improving his officers rather than continually reaching down to personally resolve specific issues.
The Navy, unfortunately, tends to be rather unforgiving of officers whose ships are damaged so Kirk Lippold never made Captain. The military’s loss is our gain as he tours the country sharing his leadership lessons.
The Psychological Cost of
Learning to Kill in War and Society
by Dave Grossman
I read this book and I review it here not because of any particular interest in sanctioned killing, rather because of my interest in institutional means of getting people to do difficult yet important tasks. I train salespeople and other business leaders.
I first heard the author, Dave Grossman, on a radio interview promoting this book. I heard him say that that in the history of combat from Alexander the Great through World War II only about 15% of soldiers in battle were trying to kill the enemy. He’s not talking about the long administrative and logistical tail of the army. Only 15-20% of the people with guns or swords in their hands, who were facing a threatening enemy, were willing to kill that enemy. I know this is (more…)
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Here is my 12 Step Program for conducting a difficult, stressful, or frightening conversation in a way that will create new possibilities for relationship and action.
- Get yourself centered.
- Make sure the other person is willing to talk. Use my Conversation Contract™.
- Help the other person feel safe. “We’re friends and colleagues now and we’ll still be friends and colleagues after this conversation.” Easy on the relationship, rigorous on the topic.
- Get a firm agreement on facts before delving into opinions. Be conscientious about distinguishing facts from opinions. “The client reported several misspellings in the report,” is a fact. “Your work is sloppy,” is an opinion.
- Remember, seek first to understand, then to be understood, is Covey’s fifth habit.
Listen before you speak. Encouraging the other person to talk first is also a way to get his or her concerns out of his or her head to make room in there for what you have to say.
Ask questions to clarify how it looks to him or her. Stop behaving as though you know what they think; be genuinely curious.
Repeat key points back to him or her to show that you are listening and to verify that you have heard correctly. You do not need to agree with the person’s point of view, but it is helpful to let him or her know you understand and you accept that he or she sees that way right now.
- Take responsibility for your own reactions.
It is not responsible to assert, “You are forcing me to double-check all of your reports.” It is more useful to explain, “When I hear a client complain I feel obligated to double-check all of your reports.” See the difference? The first is the voice of a victim making an accusation, one who has reached a firm conclusion about the location of the problem: it’s the other guy. The second is a person making a choice on limited information, one who is eager to consider alternatives.
The simple shortcut from victim to choice is to start sentences with “I” rather than “you.”
- Establish the level of trust: sincerity, capacity, competence, consistency, and care. “I know that you can see when a project is suffering from scope creep and that you will let me know about it.”
- Explicitly agree on the shared (more…)
The bottom line is that being accountable to ourselves is not enough. We clearly need others, preferably outside of our organization, to hold us accountable and to help us accelerate our learning. We need others to help us fight the continual battles against our own human nature and our tendency to do what we want to do, rather than what we need to do. We need others to (more…)