Leaders don’t flock. You have to go out of your way to pursue the wisdom of other leaders. Can you ask yourself questions to keep you and your company on the beam? Ken talks about turning inward to ask yourself some leadership questions without pursuing the help of others.
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Self Leadership Questions
This one is a little bit evergreen, to say the least. I’m doing a deep dive into Harvard Business Review Articles on leadership, specific self-leadership. They have a vast library of tools that can answer almost any business question. It’s pretty phenomenal. I have found there is quite a bit of juxtaposition when it comes to leadership. I want to give you a baseline. One cause of someone becoming a leader is due to their timely and proper response to input. I’ll give you an example. As you know, my wife was a Bulls Cheerleader. Many great pro-basketball players absorb input in a very specific way that allows them to eventually coach. I’m specifically thinking of Steve Kerr who now coaches the Golden State Warriors. Carrie cheered for him for quite a bit, and yet other pros have attempted to go into coaching and they didn’t even come close. The reality is a lot of it has to do with how a player, we’ll call that player a follower, follows a leader. How do they follow a leader in a way that allows them to absorb these leadership skills and then turn around and teach these leadership skills to future players?
The challenge becomes as I’m studying this, the larger the leader becomes, the less input they begin to receive. If you think about it, it goes on the principle I covered a couple of podcasts ago that eagles don’t flock. Eagles are leaders. Leaders are eagles. Leaders don’t flock. You have to go out of your way to hang with other leaders. That’s part of why I’m in a Saturday Masters Men here in town. That’s why I fly every 60 days to LA to go into a men’s group with twelve people that have global businesses. Why do I fly in and out the same day just to have a three-hour lunch with eleven other leaders? Bottom line is eagles don’t flock. You got to find input.
A gentleman named Robert Kaplan, who for decades was an exec at Goldman Sachs, he’s got to take on this where you get to a point where a great leader has to somehow flip a switch and turn on what he calls a self-diagnostic or self input button. I’m calling it a switch. He refers to it in a different way. He actually doesn’t use the phrase self-diagnostic, he uses something else, but what he’s basically saying is leaders, especially climbing through a big company or starting a company that becomes a good-sized company, there comes a time where they just can’t stop and go get mentorship elsewhere. They’ve got to start having some degree of a self-input or self-diagnostic.
I put together four questions that were a theme throughout these Harvard Business Review Studies I was doing. Number one self-diagnostic question that a leader must ask themselves on a quarterly basis. I actually have a phone alert set up quarterly to ask myself these four questions. Number one, am I communicating a vision for my business to my people? I ask myself this now on a quarterly basis. Number two, am I spending my time in ways that enabled me to achieve my priorities? First you have to set priorities, most people don’t even do that, but am I spending my time in a way that enables me to achieve my priorities? Number three, do I give people timely and direct feedback they can act on? Do I give people timely and direct feedback they can act on? Many leaders are afraid to give feedback. Number four, how do I behave under pressure?
I have a quarterly alerts set on my phone that drives me to my corkboard in front of me right now. I read these four questions to myself. I suggest you do something similar. If you’re in the early stages of leadership, you might want to ask these monthly. Where you are part of a group, you might want to bring these up in a group discussion to see if there are any other questions that other mentors think you might want to add to your list. I personally believe these four hit the angle of leadership from four different ways that involve other people. It involves production, so you’re not confusing activity with accomplishment, and it involves self-improvement, so that the leader stays constantly focused on becoming a better leader. For episode 334, I am Ken Courtright. I hope this helps. Take care.