What to Ask the Person in the Mirror

Topics: Management, Leadership, Harvard Business School Pages: 3 (939 words) Published: April 27, 2013
What to ask the person in the mirror - Robert S. Kaplan - Harvard Business Review - January 2007

No matter how talented and successful you are, you will make mistakes. You will develop bad habits. The world will change subtly, without your even noticing, and behaviors that once worked will be rendered ineffective. PG 1

It’s hard to see it when you’re in the midst of it; changes in the environment, competitors, or even personal circumstances can quietly guide you off your game. I have learned that a key characteristic of highly successful leaders is not that they figure out how to always stay on course, but that they de- velop techniques to help them recognize a deteriorating sit- uation and get back on track as quickly as possible. PG 1

Their feedback helped him see that he had been so immersed in the day-to-day busi- ness that he had failed to step back and think about what he was doing. PG 1

Many leaders have, on paper, a wealth of leadership talents: interpersonal, strate- gic, and analytic skills; a knack for team building; and cer- tainly the ability to develop a vision. Unfortunately, in the press of day-to-day activities, they often don’t adequately communicate the vision to the organization, and in particu- lar, they don’t convey it in a way that helps their people un- derstand what they are supposed to be doing to drive the business. It is very difficult to lead people if they don’t have a firm grasp of where they’re heading and what’s expected of them. Pg 1

Failing to communicate your vision and priorities has di- rect costs to you in terms of time and business effectiveness. It’s hard to delegate if your people don’t have a good sense of the big picture; hence you end up doing more work your- self. This issue can cascade through the organization if your direct reports are, in turn, unable to communicate a vision and effectively leverage their own subordinates. Pg 4

Once youknow your priorities, you need to determine whether...
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