Five Fundamental Questions for Today’s Leaders
The leadership role, at whatever level in the organisation, requires a degree of self awareness that may not always be present in the wider population. We generally accept that those who are granted the leadership position and consciously seek to maintain that position spend time thinking about what they are doing rather than leaving things to chance. That means conscious consideration of themselves, the role they play, what they are trying to achieve and who they are trying to achieve it with. It also requires thought as how to get the message across and “bought” by potential supporters, sponsors and followers.
Self awareness and mindfulness require reflection and recognition of the key issues surrounding the leadership job. For any corporate leader there are five fundamental questions that he or she should spend time considering, thinking through and evaluating the answers or responses - with or without a coach:-
What Do You Stand For? - If anyone is to follow you they must understand what it is you value, what you believe in, what drives you. Without this clarity it is difficult to distinguish you from anyone else. Leadership is distinctive - it’s a “stand out” role. At election time there is plenty of talk about what politicians claim to stand for. Only time shows whether this is just talk or real values in action.
Why Should They Follow You? - Without followers you are not the leader. Nothing else defines whether you are leading or not. No followers equals no leadership role. The question then, is not what you’re so good at but what it is they see you have to offer. What’s in it for them in choosing to follow your lead?
What Will be Different? - Change is the central purpose of leadership. Leaders work to make things different. What is it that you want to change and what will be in place when you’re done? Without clarity on your end result your task is unfocussed. The more tangible you make the dream the more people can understand what they are buying in to.
Who’s On Your Side? - The complexities and diverse dimensions of organisational life mean that, to get things done, you need to enlist the support of others. They may be in other functions, departments, divisions or organisations. They may be peers, superiors or customers. They may know you well or have never met you - but your network needs to extend to include them.
Who Listens When You Speak? - Without a clear message, structured so that people can understand, engage and “buy in”, the potential leader is that voice crying in the wilderness. Rhetoric and rhetorical skills are fast becoming a forgotten art - but the smartest leaders know they must use words, emotions and structures to get the message across.
Continuous learning is one of the keys to corporate survival for organisations, teams and individuals. The five fundamental questions of leadership provide a structure for leaders to periodically reflect, review and perhaps rethink their role.