March 2017 | Leadership
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributor: Dafna Eylon, PhD; President, Eylon Associates
Make your mark as a leader by identifying what you really want to accomplish and believe matters. Then keep it front and center, and stay focused on reaching your ideal outcome.
“The most common source of mistakes in management decisions is the emphasis on finding the right answer rather than the right question. The most serious mistakes are not being made as result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thinking is asking the wrong questions.” — Peter Drucker
No matter their role, their organization, or their industry, all leaders have something in common: overwhelming demands on their time. There is simply too much to do. How can you stay focused on and achieve what is most important (and know what to say “no” to)? Crafting your own leadership question can help you stay on track. Why a question? Our brains are hardwired to seek answers, which help guide where we place our attention and what we ignore.
If we don’t phrase them for ourselves, we run the risk of answering the wrong questions. And because as leaders our questions guide the behavior of others, it’s even more important that we identify a key question for ourselves.
Your question will be highly personalized — two people in the same role at the same company can have very different questions. Your ideal question will relate to who you are as a leader and on how you see your role and its potential for meaning or impact. Use the action steps below create a question that guides your future actions and decisions towards a legacy that you’ll be proud to own.
Use the following prompts to help you consider how you currently spend your time and energy. The key to identifying your leadership question is understanding what is truly important — and what isn’t. For example, if your key objective is to revolutionize your industry, although you may want to be financially efficient, that may not be part of your leadership question. Your Leadership Question will focus on what you most want to achieve, not simply on the conditions required for success. Begin by answering these four questions:
Then, bring in more detail by considering:
Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, director of Custom Programs at Wharton Executive Education. Nano Tools for Leaders® is a collaboration between joint sponsors Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management. This collaboration is led by Professors Michael Useem and John Paul MacDuffie.
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