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Originally Published May 2, 2011

We hear so much about being an “authentic” leader. I believe that fully. You must lead from who you are; at the same time, authenticity does not give you permission to be a jerk. The most productive leader leads from her strengths and dials back those tendencies she has to react poorly.

Question:

When might you mistake spontaneity for authenticity? When might your words or actions work against you or your organization? How do you protect your “inner jerk” from surfacing as you interact with your people?

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Originally Published March 28, 2011

Leadership is about people. It’s about working with people, for people and through people. “With” them to show you’ll put out as much as you ask of them. “For” them to assure them they have the resources, the training, the scope and the authority to do their jobs. “Through” them to focus everyone’s efforts on achieving the set and the shared goals.

Question:

Which preposition gives you the most angst — with, for or through? Do your people see that you are “with” them? Do they know that you are “for” them? Do they share the goals you’ve communicated to them providing confidence you are effectively working “through” them? What do you need to work on today?

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Originally Published March 14, 2011

It seems like we are obsessed with answers. Innovation and creativity are not founded on great answers; they arise from challenging, unique, insightful, bold, even irreverent questions. We must spend more energy shaping our asks and less struggling with the responses.

Question:

What must you do to give up the notion of right and wrong answers and focus on each specific question? What changes for you this week if you evaluate your people based on their questions not on their responses? What changes for them
?

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Originally Published March 7, 2011

I don’t know why it happens. Every once in a while I see leaders hesitating to act for no apparent reason. Probing, I’ve found a number of leaders seem to be waiting for permission – permission from their board, their client, a team member, their partner. What keeps them paralyzed is that the person doesn’t even know their permission is hoped for.

Question:

Do you ever hesitate? Are you waiting for permission? Do that person know it? You have two options – ask for the permission now OR just do it – which will it be
?

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Originally Published February 28, 2011

I’ve been challenged again to think about succession planning. Tomorrow isn’t very far away. Things happen. Begin evaluating your future options considering who performs people’s jobs when they are on vacation. If people are backed up from above, that’s a short-term recipe for long-term disaster. If people are backed up by a peer, it’s really not much better.

Question:

How do you create an organization where everyone is backed up from below? Everyone…including your senior people? Often, what is required is more about faith that it is about training. What must you do to make this a policy starting now?

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What happens in your organization when something goes wrong? If you are like most, the first question is often, “Who’s fault is it?” Recently, I’ve begun challenging myself to think to think instead, “What is it about us that gave room for the mess to develop?” Quite possibly the error is merely a symptom of a less-than-healthy organization.

Question:

What changes for you when you look for imbedded reasons for trouble rather than for someone to pin it on? What will it take for your first question to be, “What is it about us that……?” What changes will you see in your people and their effort when you take seriously the cultural and/or systemic shortfalls you’ve identified?