Questions Leaders Should Ask the Face in the Mirror

Questions Leaders Should Ask the Face in the Mirror

Confronting the face in the mirror with tough management questions is not the most pleasurable experience at times. However, Robert S. Kaplan, Professor of Management Practice at the Harvard Business School, maintains it simply must be done.

As Kaplan so eloquently states, “Show me a company or nonprofit or government in trouble, and I will almost invariably show you a set of leaders who are asking absolutely the wrong questions.” He addresses this issue in his new book, What to Ask the Person in the Mirror.

He believes that asking the hard questions—and getting answers thereto—is a vital leadership exercise. This process tends to bring the critical items, currently being ignored or downplayed, back into primary focus.

Kaplan’s Technique and Focus

Kaplan believes the idea that great leaders have all the answers is foolhardy, at best. Instead, he recommends rethinking about what an outstanding leader actually does. 

Among those skills leaders need are the following.

•    Articulating vision.

•    Establishing priorities.

•    Efficiently managing time.

•    Offering and soliciting feedback.

•    Delegating efficiently.

•    Accepting the mantle of role model.

•    Thoughtful succession planning.

•    Analyzing tirelessly.

The Tough Questions

Identifying and acquiring these skills comes from the pertinent questions you ask the face in the mirror. The answers will offer the road map to acquiring; practicing and perfecting required leadership skills.

Question 1: “Have you developed a clear vision and key priorities for your enterprise?”

Leaders should not only possess a clear vision for their organization, but also articulate it equally clearly to their key employees. Take the time to verbalize your vision to a level that your top operatives can ‘rearticulate’ your vision consistently and without hesitation.

After carefully describing your vision, create a working list of three to five priorities that you feel are critical to achieving this vision. You can then adapt different variations of these priorities to specific departments, groups and teams, based on their responsibilities.

Question 2: “Does the way you spend your time match your key priorities?”

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