What to Ask the Person in the Mirror.
By: Kaplan, Robert S.,
Harvard Business Review,
Jan 2007, Vol. 85, Issue 1
VISION AND PRIORITIES
How often do I communicate a vision for my business?
Have I identified and communicated three to five key priorities to achieve that vision?
If asked, would my employees be able to articulate the vision and priorities?
How am I spending my time? Does it match my key priorities?
How are my subordinates spending their time? Does that match the key priorities for the business?
Do I give people timely and direct feedback that they can act on?
Do I have five or six junior subordinates who will tell me things I may not want to hear but need to hear?
When leaders fail to actively plan for succession, they do not delegate sufficiently and may become decision-making bottlenecks. Key employees may leave if they are not actively groomed and challenged.
Have I, at least in my own mind, picked one or more potential successors?
Am I coaching them and giving them challenging assignments?
Am I delegating sufficiently? Have I become a decisionmaking bottleneck?
EVALUATION AND ALIGNMENT
Is the design of my company still aligned with the key success factors for the business?
If I had to design my business with a clean sheet of paper, how would I design it? How would it differ from the current design?
Should I create a task force of subordinates to answer these questions and make recommendations to me?
LEADING UNDER PRESSURE
What types of events create pressure for me?
How do I behave under pressure?
What signals am I sending my subordinates? Are these signals helpful, or are they undermining the success of my business?
STAYING TRUE TO YOURSELF
Is my leadership style comfortable? Does it reflect who I truly am?
Do I assert myself sufficiently, or have I become tentative?
Am I too politically correct?
Does worry about my next promotion or bonus cause me to pull punches or hesitate to express my views?
Robert S. Kaplan (email@example.com), formerly vice chairman of the Goldman Sachs Group, is the Thomas S. Murphy Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School in Boston.