2 Questions All Leaders Should Ask Themselves

By Jay Forte

One of the behaviors I see most often when coaching executives is the need to be right instead of being open to the ideas of others.

Humility is an attribute rarely associated with our conventional definition of CEO or executives. In fact, the assertive, commanding and directing personalities have been routinely applauded as the attributes of successful leaders. Though there may have been a time when some of these behaviors did advance success, in today’s world, they do not.

Let me explain.

When any one of us is more focused on needing to be right than to sourcing the best ideas, we alienate, limit and exclude others’ ideas, perspectives or directions. The need to be right over the intent to be successful or productive are two entirely different things. The former keeps you small and limited as you push away others’ ideas and thinking. The latter encourages broad thinking, continual development and improved performance.

Today’s best leaders are those who are open, supportive, good at asking questions and listening; they are committed to their own development and to the development of their employees. They know that in a knowledge economy, the success of an organization is in the brains and ideas of their employees. That means that every manager, leader and executive must learn to ask themselves these 2 questions:

  1. Who do I have to be to activate the engagement and performance of my people?
  2. What in my approach needs to change to connect with, guide, support and coach my employees to discover, develop and use what they are best at to make their greatest impact at work?

The starting point to effectively respond to both questions is to define the success attributes of a CEO, leader, manager or boss in your organization. Don’t define it as it is today, but instead as it needs to be for your organization to be an employer of choice and to consistently deliver remarkable results in today’s workplace. This is your goal. As you start to build your success plan, refer to this as your “right goalpost.”

Next, assess what works and doesn’t work in your current approach. This is your “left goalpost” – where you currently are. By assessing what works and doesn’t work, you gain the clarity and information to know where you are and what is getting in the way to prevent you from achieving the goal you created.

In other words, you have left and right goalposts, your starting point and your end goal. This allows you to see the distance or gap you need to close.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say that as you reviewed your performance as leader, you noticed you are not very self-aware. You don’t really know your strengths and liabilities, so you can’t effectively manage them. As a result, you can be a victim to your triggers and emotions, frequently reacting instead of responding, which shows up in your organization through disengaged employees: your employees don’t really contribute, you see high employee turnover and it always seems like a struggle to achieve your performance goals.

Now you know what you want and you know where you are. You see the gap between the two. With this insight, you can start to identify actions to close this gap.

A potential first action may be to work with a coach to become more self-aware, to be introduced to assessment tools and to create a personal inventory of abilities. This expanded awareness will help you identify your strengths and liabilities; both will need management, which can’t happen if you are unaware of them. By managing them, you become a more intentional and mindful manager, becoming more responsive, more inclusive and more connected to your team and employees. Taking this first step helps you start to close the gap from where you are to where you want to be.

Take Action

Contact me to learn how we help leaders define their goalposts and build success plans to close the gap.

Be the kind of leader that engages, inspires, activates and retains the best employees.


Consider reading But I’m Just Not Good At It!

 Return to the Blog

It’s Just Another Manic Monday

By Kristin Allaben

You knock over the cup of freshly poured coffee and it splashes across your pants as you’re rushing to get out of the house on time. Now you have to change your pants.

You pick up your toddler who promptly uses your shoulder as a tissue. Now you have to change your shirt.

You somehow manage to get everyone into the car and realize your gas tank is almost on ‘E’. You silently berate yourself for not stopping to get gas when you did the grocery shopping over the weekend and drive to the gas station to fill up before dropping off the kids. There’s a puddle by the pump and, despite seeing it and telling yourself to step over it, promptly step right into it. Now your shoe is soaked.

And all that happened in a matter of 15 minutes.

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a manic Monday morning, or just a typical weekday morning trying to get everyone to where they need to be on time, nothing seems to go right and you can’t seem to get out of your own way.

This is just life happening. Though you can’t always influence what happens, you can choose how you respond to it. Was it an adventure, something worth laughing about and sharing later? Or was it a disaster, something that got you frustrated, aggravated and disappointed before your day even started?

I admit I have totally slipped into feeling like a victim or getting aggravated by a rough morning and allowed myself to stay there all day. Why does this always happen to me? Or why does everything now make me angry and irritated? Can this day just start over? Ugh, forget it. I’m done with this day.

Notice the phrase I used: allowed myself. I kept myself aggravated and irritated all day. It was my choice. And since it was my choice, why did I choose that response when I could also have chosen to let it roll off me, not affect me and not have me take it on others?

This is why being self-aware is so important. When you can recognize events as just events, when you can acknowledge that life happens and you’re human, when you can identify your reaction vs. a response to an event, you can start to shift your responses to something more productive. Though you can choose to be hurt, angry or frustrated, you can also choose to laugh it off, find the humor in it and move past it. Your mantra: everything is an opportunity and nothing is personal.

So remember, mornings can be manic, but only you can decide how the rest of your day will be. Choose your response wisely.

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. Do you react or respond to the events associated with the morning rush?
  2. What is one thing you can do differently to become more self-aware during the morning rush to make the conscious effort of responding vs. reacting?
  3. If you find yourself in feeling like a victim or getting angry after an event, what is one thing you can do to start to shift your response to something more positive and upbeat?


Consider reading What is a Good Day for You?

Return to the Blog

Are You The Great Pretender?

By Jay Forte

Social media has made us constantly aware of what others have, are doing and are experiencing. We know about their trips, their adventures and their awards. We hear about what great things are happening to their friends, their kids and their grandkids. We hear about job promotions and successes.

But we rarely hear about or see the other side, the real life side – their challenges, failures and disappointments.

It can be tempting to compare your life to what you’re seeing from others, driving questions like: If their lives are so great, what am I doing wrong? What are they doing that I should be doing to be happier and more successful?

These questions rarely have the positive impact you’d assume – many people make big life changes based solely on their interpretation of what others do and find that after making these changes, things aren’t any better.

This is when people are often confronted by The Great Pretender. You think that by doing and being like others, you will have what they have and your life will be great. But it doesn’t turn out that way for two primary reasons:

  1. You are seeing only what others choose to share with you – the highlights. All lives have challenges and obstacles, so you’re only getting a partial view of their lives.
  2. Pretending distracts you away from what’s amazing in your life. When you pretend to be someone else, you step away from what makes you you. You are not others – don’t compare your life to theirs. Instead, focus on knowing, developing and living who you really are – that is the key to your greatest success, joy and happiness.

Being The Great Pretender is one of the greatest wastes of time. It distances you from all of what makes you your best self, and is frequently done just to impress others about something that doesn’t matter.

The way to be the best version of yourself is to be authentic and believe that you have the ability and responsibility to define what a great life is for you. Fight the urge to compare your life to the string of successes on Facebook and other social media channels. Know it is just a snapshot of someone else’s life. Appreciate the greatness and successes in others, then define what belongs in your great life.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. In what areas of your life are you pretending, trying to be something or someone you are not?
  2. How would being more authentic connect you to your greater abilities, interests and values?
  3. How can you be better about noticing and applauding others for the great things in their lives but avoiding comparing yourself, your situation and your life to theirs?

Being authentic is the key to a happy and successful life. Decide who you will be and what you want in life. Leave the pretending to the storytellers.

Consider reading Embrace Your Face

Return to the Blog

RSS feed
Connect with us on Facebook
Follow Me
Connect with us on LinkedIn