Two Questions Every GREAT Leader Should Ask

GREAT leaders have one thing in common. They understand that in order for them to be effective, they have to keep learning how to be better. This is a never-ending process. We can always be better leaders. One of the fastest ways to learn about what we need to do differently in order to be more effective is to ASK the people around us.

Over the years I’ve seen many leaders ask others for feedback. It typically has been in the form of a third party instrument, like a survey, or having a third party coach go interview the people they work with. They think they will get more complete information if the feedback is anonymous or they have someone else go ask on their behalf. However, there is a very easy, straightforward and practical way to find out what people really think of your leadership skills: simply go ASK them. That might sound a little scary, but after you do it once or twice, I promise the fear will disappear.

The technique of Feed-Forward was developed by the forefather of executive coaching and best-selling author Marshall Goldsmith. Check out his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Since the day he explained it in a workshop I attended, I have used it relentlessly for my own learning and coaching. 

It’s really simple: Schedule five minutes with a few people you interact with regularly that includes your boss, and some of your peers and direct reports. Ask these two questions: What are the strengths that I am bringing to the team that help us be effective? What suggestions do you have for me to be a more effective leader/member of this team?

Understand that you are only to record the information they provide you, thank them for the suggestions and then leave their office or move on to another topic. There is no questioning or debating.  The conversation is over.

With the new insights you’ve collected, you will be able to prioritize what you believe you should focus on to be a more effective leader. Then do these three things: Create an action plan, take action and repeat.

If you’d like to learn more about other traits of great leadership, you can read about it in Chapter 5, The Right Leadership, in my new book, Money On The Table, available here




Lonely At The Top?

As I’ve made step changes in my career to positions with greater responsibility, and ultimately to a senior executive role, I have often gotten the question from up-and-coming leaders:  Is being a leader at the top lonely? Perhaps that thought has been fueled by their own observations of how many executives become less connected to the masses, and in some cases even isolated, as they shift from being in the weeds of tactics that drive the day-to-day business, to spending more time on vision and strategy that will sustain and grow the business long term.

More Women, More Money: Gender Diversity in the Boardroom

In today’s ultra-competitive global economy, even high-performing companies can’t afford to rest on their laurels. Every CEO and president is thinking day and night about what they need to do differently in order to compete today and thrive tomorrow.

They’re always looking for new ideas or new points of view. Many bring high-paid consultants to help them look at strategy, capabilities, and talent in hopes they will discover a silver bullet that will help them get ahead.

Yet most still overlook a far simpler and more affordable investment that’s proven to make a difference: involving more women in leadership teams and governing boards.

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Want to Boost Company Profits in 2017? Get More Women Leaders

According to the Center for American Progress, women hold roughly 52 percent of all professional-level jobs in America, but they only account for 14.6 percent of executive officers and 16.9 percent of board seats at Fortune 500 companies.

Your business may be doing just fine with a male-dominated C-suite, but it would probably do even better if there were more gender parity in the leadership ranks, according to Melissa Greenwell.

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7 Surprising Things the Most Successful Women Leaders Never Do

We all know there aren't enough powerful women leaders in the world, especially the world of business. And we mostly disagree about why that is, with explanations ranging from deeply ingrained gender bias, to the "mommy track" to women's own lack of confidence.

Whatever the explanation, there are things many women do that inadvertently hold us back from the highest achievement, according to Melissa Greenwell, COO of athletic apparel retailer The Finish Line, and author of the new book Money on the Table: How to Increase Profits Through Gender-Balanced Leadership. There are some mistakes women executives make that prevent us from excelling in leadership roles, she says. I've been guilty of every one of these. If you have too, whatever gender you are, you should stop. Today.

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Starting the Conversation About Gender Balance

It’s interesting to observe how we strive for gender balance in our personal lives. We talk about it openly. Couples often want the opportunity and experience of raising both genders. But in the workplace, we find it uncomfortable to talk about gender balance and why we might want a certain mix of men and women on a team. We find it even more difficult to talk about how to do that.