Some people mistakenly believe inquiry is a sign of weakness when, in fact, it is a critical practice for both individuals and organizations. In his book ‘What to Ask the Person in the Mirror’ Robert Kaplan, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, shatters the notion that good leaders never ask questions, and highlights the powers of perception and inquiry.
Kaplan proves that ‘great leadership is not about having all the answers’. It’s about finding those answers and taking proactive steps toward bettering yourself and your organization.
All throughout, Kaplan draws on his experience as co-chairman of Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, a global venture philanthropy firm, to teach others how to reach their own potential. When describing company structure, he states, ‘In my experience, if you haven’t identified potential successors for key jobs — including your job — it is very likely that you are also not delegating sufficiently and are probably a significant bottleneck for key decisions’.
In each of his chapters, which include ‘Visions and Priorities’, ‘Succession Planning and Delegation’ or ‘Managing Your Time’, the first step in improvement is the willingness to ask questions.
Here are a few examples:
• In 10 years, what do leaders of this organization hope it will have accomplished?
• Are senior leaders working with advisers who are able to confront them with criticisms they may not want to hear?
• Are there potential successors identified for this job?
Beneficial to anyone working within an organization, What to Ask the Person in the Mirror can help boost personal performance and the performance of
a team, or revamp entire organizations.
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