The New Necessity for Leadership Success
There is no secret to success, but some qualities and behaviors make success more likely.
25 qualities and behaviors that make success more likely:
- Sociability and connections.
- Seeing the big picture.
- Hard work.
- Inspiring others.
- Surrounding yourself with talent.
- Solving problems
- Adding value.
- Leveraging strengths.
- Receiving help.
- Having mentors and coaches.
- Understanding people.
The new necessity for leadership success:
When asked recently to name the one attribute CEOs will need most to succeed in the turbulent times ahead, Michael Dell, the chief executive of Dell, Inc., replied, “I would place my bet on curiosity.” HBR
Early in your career, you provide answers.
The higher you go, the more questions matter.
5 tips for crafting powerful questions:
- Enable openness. Ask questions that begin with what, how, when, and where. Avoid why.
- Touch imagination. Use metaphors in your questions.
- What would it look like if you hit a homerun?
- If you cut the sandbags from your balloon, where would you go?
- How might you navigate stormy seas?
- Include action. Use terms like, doing and trying. What did you do that made this come together?
- Add time to questions.
- When will you try that?
- What’s next?
- What worked last time? What didn’t work?
- Change perspective with questions.
- What would you say if you were the CEO?
- What might your colleagues say about this?
- What challenges are direct reports facing?
I listen for the questions leaders ask. Sometimes, sadly, I don’t hear any.
Which qualities or behaviors in the above list seem most important to you? What might you add?
How might leaders ask better questions?
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What about Commitment, Values, attitude, Acceptance and Flexibility sir
Your tips certainly make sense and can bring out the real leader out of the readers
I read your blog nearly every day and take something from it. I think today is the first time I find myself strongly disagreeing with something you’ve written. As a business leader, and a recovering journalist, ‘Why?’ is the most important and powerful question leaders can ask. Why did that person react that way? Why do clients use this service that way? Why should this organization take this direction instead of that one? If you don’t know why you’re doing something, or not doing something, then generating buy-in and creating value are impossible.
Sarah, I understand your perspective. “Why” is a powerful question…..in the right setting. It has a tendency to be confrontational for many people resulting in defensiveness and becoming closed/guarded. When I first learned about replacing “why” questions with other words I was surprised how deep and wide we could go on an issue. I also found the creativity of the group to grow. We still used the question “why” but it was far less and much later in our discussions. One interesting change we made……in our process improvement methodology we had a step we termed “5 why’s” – you ask “why” about the result produced as a way to dig deeper. We actually employed other questions to move towards the root causes in this stage of the methodology and produced richer conversations that led to improvement in shorter timeframes.
the transition from “leader-answer-man” to “leader-curiosity-man” takes some intentional re-training for me.. crafting questions in a way they invite/encourage openness (not defensiveness) takes a bit of practice too!
I agree but would add a sense of humor to lighten the load or help you share a smile where one is needed. Accountabilty–to your self and others. –no low performers allowed. #21 understanding the difference b/t you and another (generation) can help you to step out of your box and welcome them to the middle ground. thanks Anita Sue
Maybe I am not adequately understanding “avoid why” as a question, but that seems to be a critical tool to have at various times. It might help explain an answer to one of the other questions. It is said if you want to get to the heart of a matter, you have to ask “why” seven times. Otherwise, you may just be getting superficial answers, or answers that really haven’t been thought through.
I enjoy your columns, and challenging thoughts.
I found myself changing the Why on a document to What to collect some evidence because I realized knowing why isn’t going to directly relate to my role in this project and being clear about others’ perceptions about How they want the evidence collected and that will likely clear up the Why for me.
I like asking Why after What when working to understand and support strengths in others I want to support and build on.
Dan, your mention of Michael Dell along with your theme of “Leadership’s New Necessity for Success” is absolutely perfect: Some say Michael saved Dell by turning a large ship in a small harbor, and others say he flipped a switch to ON!
Either way, Michael Dell is example to us of how action is favorable to inaction. One of his dad’s old managers tells the story of Michael’s first meetings and remembers it was like Michael turned-on a switch. The company was in dire economic condition. Michael did not want management to “try” anything; he wanted people to commit to “do” everything. Commit to action. Go all-in. Simply do it.
The result was, of course, Dell took over the school, medical and business market, the laptop and notebook business, and in only three years dominated the low-end PC sales. What Michael Dell really did was FREE his staff to think, create and perform. Together, they saved Dell.
Changing Why to How moves away from subjectivity, using more metaphors , and embedding time into the action questions to help processes move forward are specific strategies I found myself tweaking in my bigger plan of action as I read this.
The quality that stands out most for me on your list Dan is Authenticity. From a place of knowing and embracing myself as a leader, I’m then able to shift my focus outward without constant internal distractions. Doing so allows me to then be curious with others, be open and more vulnerable shelving the need to be right and move to looking to understand and learn anew. Therefore, to answer the question – “How can leaders ask better questions?”, could it be first asking yourself “What might my assumptions be?”?
Eight very significant, critical words: “The higher you go, the more questions matter.” May I suggest, however, that the following is also significant: “The more important the situation (regardless of who is involved), the more questions matter.”
The 25 qualities and the tips are both important for people seeking to make a difference, to be judged a success.
Leadership is about developing others. There are many folks out there with the attributes, qualities & behaviors supportive of leadership but without a culture that is conducive to the elements of leadership, you are just another voice in the choir.