Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Senior Executive - Ask yourself these questions periodically

What to Ask the Person in the Mirror.
By: Kaplan, Robert S.,
Harvard Business Review,
Jan 2007, Vol. 85, Issue 1


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?


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?


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?


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 (, formerly vice chairman of the Goldman Sachs Group, is the Thomas S. Murphy Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School in Boston.

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