What questions are you asking?

What challenges are you facing?

What’s the real challenge here for me?—that’s the question I’ve been asking myself this week. I hit two roadblocks that disproportionately bothered me. I figured something must be going on, so I kept asking myself, “What’s the real challenge here for me?” I realized the real challenge for me was feeling both ineffective and disconnected—which then led to a breakthrough on a project and a really good meeting where I shared my concerns and felt heard.

What role do questions play in your life?

I like questions. I like asking questions, thinking about questions, and finding questions. Here are some questions I came across recently that intrigued me:

  1. “Who are you going to be? And how specific and intentional will you be in that creation process?” (Personality Isn’t Permanent, loc 268)
  2. “Do you want to be the boss, or do you want to do the things that bosses do?” (Radical Candor Podcast Episode 19: Being a Boss Isn’t for Everyone…Including Some Bosses)
  3. “What benefits are you currently offering to others?… In what way do people improve by associating with you?… How many lives have you changed positively in the past year?” (Your Next Five Moves, loc 1354)
  4. “If you could change one thing to improve your progress, what would it be?” (Talent Unleashed, loc 1803)
  5. “How do you get better as a leader?” (Lead Like You Were Meant To, p. 4)
  6. “Why is growth as a leader difficult? What is it that keeps all of us from being at our best, or at least from getting better?” (Lead Like You Were Meant To, p. 19)
  7. “When does thinking on autopilot help your leadership? When does autopilot thinking degrade your leadership?” (Lead Like You Were Meant To, p. 106)
  8. “How can I best help you?” (Talent Unleashed, loc 1820) 
  9. “What’s the most effective way to show that I care?” (Your Next Five Moves, loc 2058)
  10. “How have negative experiences shaped you? Where do you have a fixed mindset? Where have you built your life around your thorns? What goals are you pursuing to avoid dealing with your trauma? How would your life be different if the trauma was gone? What life would you ideally choose for yourself? Who is your ideal future self, regardless of what you’ve been in the past or what has happened to you?” (Personality Isn’t Permanent, loc 1626)

(I especially like #3, and my proofreader especially likes #1. How about you?)

What questions do you frequently ask? I like to ask, “How is your system perfectly designed to produce this?”

What’s 1 question you want to ask others? I want to ask, “What should I KeepStartStop doing?” I want to regularly ask this question when doing consulting or when facilitating meetings. I want to ask this because I want to serve more effectively and to model using a question to invite feedback.

What about you? What questions are you asking? What intriguing questions have you come across recently? What’s 1 question you want to ask others?

Here are some related posts:

Michael

P.S. Here’s a list of the questions Jesus asked!

What do you want to keep doing?

What should I KeepStopStart doing? That’s the question I’ve been considering. This week I blogged on 1 thing I want to stop doing (being the answer guy) and 1 thing I want to start doing (asking more questions). 

I want to keep using an outward mindset and SAM (See • Adjust • Measure). Watch the video to learn more!

Now I’m thinking about things I want to keep doing. What comes to mind includes:

What about you? What do you want to keep doing? What do you want to stop doing? What do you want to start doing?

What are you learning?

Here’s what I’m learning from Your Next 5 Moves:

  • “Bad managers use qualitative data. They’ll analyze such a situation with words rather than numbers. They’ll say the person is lazy, dishonest, or unmotivated. Those words don’t do anything to solve the problem. Data, on the other hand, points to solutions. By relying on the data, you defuse the emotion from the situation. By focusing on the numbers, you help the other person acknowledge realities. This not only provides the impetus for improvement but preserves your relationship” (loc 2813).
  • “A business that runs on systems, rather than just your know-how, increases in value. You have to document how the system flows” (loc 2881).
  • “No matter whom you are managing, remember that the fastest way to lose them or frustrate them is to try to change them. I’ve made this mistake too many times in my career. Instead, find what drives them and position them in a way to win at the highest level” (loc 3805).

Michael

P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word keep, keeps, or keeping:

  1. Keep learning. Keep improving. Keep helping others. Keep making a positive impact. There is no finish line” (The Power of Positive Leadership, loc 1851). 
  2. “Vision keeps you from quitting too soon” (Lead to Win: 4 Strategic Benefits of Having a Vision).
  3. “How will you find the courage to keep your team focused on what is most important, including saying no to some of your own best ideas?” (Management Mess to Leadership Success, loc 1679).
  4. Keeping your goals and projects moving is not about time management—it’s all about visibility” (Focus on This: 26. How to Leverage Rolling Quarters).
  5. “Your job is to keep being curious” (The Advice Trap, p. 61).
  6. “We keep giving advice even though it doesn’t work that well” (The Advice Trap, p. 10).
  7. Keep your commitments” (Leading with Trust: 10 Powerful Ways to Build Trust).
  8. “Trustworthy leaders…. demonstrate competence by having the knowledge, skills, and expertise for their roles. They…. act with integrity when they tell the truth, keep confidences, and admit their mistakes. They…. care about others…. People trust leaders who honor their commitments” (Leading with Trust: If You Build It, They Will Come – 4 Characteristics of Trustworthy Leaders)
  9. “When leaders invest precious energy in low-impact decisions, everyone pays a price. Hoarding decisions undervalues employees. It also keeps you from making bigger decisions that really matter. You can’t escape decision-making, but you can separate the high-leverage decisions from the rest” (How to Make Fewer, Faster, & Better Decisions).
  10. “When potential leaders have the right heart for people, choose to be positive every day, and maintain the good character to help them keep making the right choices, they possess the willingness needed to become better leaders. And they are worth choosing to develop” (The Leader’s Greatest Return Workbook, loc 462).

What do you want to start doing?

What’s 1 thing you want to start doing?

One thing—just 1 thing. As a leader if you could start doing just 1 thing, what would it be?

  • Would you start underpromising and overdelivering?
  • Would you start making your meetings more effective?
  • Would you start mining for conflict?
  • Would you start practicing radical candor?

Me? I’m focusing on asking more questions.

How about you? (Below is a list of 25 things to start doing.)

Michael

To become a better leader, what’s 1 thing you want to start doing?

(1) Start overpromising and underdelivering:
Never Over Promise and Under Deliver: “People forgive, but they hardly forget. At business level as well as in the personal life, over promising and under delivering is usually the surest fire way to lose other people’s trust.”

(2) Start doing things that matter.
No Side Bar: “‘If you don’t have time to do what matters, stop doing things that don’t.’ — Courtney Carver”

(3) Start staying focused.
Leading with Grace, loc 1130: “People, the work is hard, but it is worth it. Stay focused on what you and your team have set forth as goals for the year, and stop taking on just…one…more thing.”

(4) Start working on your priorities.
“…stop trying to do it all…” (Essentialism, p. 4).

What would be the benefits of starting 1 thing?

(5) Start doing things you are passionate about.
High Performance Habits, p. 213: “Life is short. We’re only allotted so much time to make our mark. I say that’s all the more reason to get focused. Stop producing outputs that don’t make your soul sing. Avoid trying to be effective or efficient doing things that you’re not proud of and make no impact. Determine what outputs really matter to you at this stage in your life, chart your five moves to accomplish your big dreams, and go make it happen while getting insanely good at what you do.”

(6) Start fixing problems.
Upstream, loc 205: “We can—and we should—stop dealing with the symptoms of problems, again and again, and start fixing them.”

(7) Start addressing your leadership responsibilities.
Your Next Five Moves, loc 1387: “You’re fixing bugs. Stop being a geek engineer, and be a leader.”

(8) Start managing your direct reports.
The Motive, loc 1147: “It’s a sign of neglect for a CEO to stop managing people just because he can get away with it.”

(9) Start being a partnership-style manager.

(10) Start “building a leadership team, managing subordinates, having difficult conversations, running effective meetings, and constantly repeating key messages to employees.”(The Motive, loc 1832).

(11) Start working on a vision.
How to Solve Your Turnover Problem: “Our decades of experience have taught us that staffing…boils down to one thing: vision. You need to stop looking at the secondary causes of turnover, and address the underlying problem. Either you don’t have a vision, or your team does not understand it.”

(13) Start multiplying others.

(12) Start finding challenges.
The Advice Trap, p. 83: “Your job is to stop seeking the solutions and start finding the challenges.”

(14) Start asking questions.
The Leadership Challenge, loc  5427: “Ask questions; stop giving answers.”

(15) Start asking, “What else?”
The Coaching Habit, p. 75: “Stop offering up advice with a question mark attached. That doesn’t count as asking a question. If you’ve got an idea, wait. Ask, ‘And what else?’ and you’ll often find that the person comes up with that very idea that’s burning a hole in your brain. And if she doesn’t, then offer your idea—as an idea, not disguised as a fake question.”

(16) Start pursuing the best idea.
At the Table with Patrick Lencioni: 26. Stop Agreeing to Disagree: “Conflict with trust is the pursuit of truth or the best idea.  Too many teams, families and friends stop short of the best answer because they “agree to disagree.”  Pat and Cody suggest a different approach – convince or be convinced.”

(17) Start working with an outward mindset.

(18) Start mining for conflict.
At the Table with Patrick Lencioni: 3. The Upside of Conflict: “Mining for conflict is just going into a meeting and noticing that 2 people don’t quite agree on something and just saying, ‘Hey, you guys, I don’t think you agree on this, do you?’” 

(19) Start celebrating time with others.
Essentialism, p. 26: “What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?”

(20) Start using the feedback you asked for.
The Leadership Challenge, loc 2189: “Make changes and adjustments based on the feedback you receive; otherwise, people will stop bothering to provide it.”

How might starting 1 thing help you serve more effectively as a leader?

(21) Start caring more about others.
Radical Candor, loc 949: “…stop repressing your innate ability to care personally.”

(22) Start finding out what drives people.
Your Next Five Moves, loc 3805: “No matter whom you are managing, remember that the fastest way to lose them or frustrate them is to try to change them. I’ve made this mistake too many times in my career. Instead, find what drives them and position them in a way to win at the highest level. It may require you to change the lens through which you view them. Stop trying to fix people. Thinking you can change or fix people is delusional behavior.”

(23) Start consistently using best practice.
How Can You More Effectively Address Conflict?: One way to cause unnecessary conflict is by not consistently using best practices….”

(24) Start analyzing things with quantitative data.
Your Next Five Moves, loc 2813: “Bad managers use qualitative data. They’ll analyze such a situation with words rather than numbers. They’ll say the person is lazy, dishonest, or unmotivated. Those words don’t do anything to solve the problem. Data, on the other hand, points to solutions. By relying on the data, you defuse the emotion from the situation. By focusing on the numbers, you help the other person acknowledge realities. This not only provides the impetus for improvement but preserves your relationship.”

(25) Start practicing radical candor.

What do you want to stop doing?

What’s 1 thing you want to stop doing?

One thing—just 1 thing. As a leader if you could stop doing just 1 thing, what would it be?

  • Would you stop overpromising and underdelivering?
  • Would you stop avoiding running effective meetings?
  • Would you stop avoiding conflict?
  • Would you stop practicing ruinous empathy?

Me? I’m working to stop being the answer guy. Instead, I want to be the question guy. 

How about you? (Below is a list of 25 things to stop doing.)

Michael

To become a better leader, what’s 1 thing you want to stop doing?

(1) Stop overpromising and underdelivering:
Never Over Promise and Under Deliver: “People forgive, but they hardly forget. At business level as well as in the personal life, over promising and under delivering is usually the surest fire way to lose other people’s trust.”

(2) Stop doing things that don’t matter.
No Side Bar: “‘If you don’t have time to do what matters, stop doing things that don’t.’ — Courtney Carver”

(3) Stop taking on more things.
Leading with Grace, loc 1130: “People, the work is hard, but it is worth it. Stay focused on what you and your team have set forth as goals for the year, and stop taking on just…one…more thing.”

(4) “…stop trying to do it all…” (Essentialism, p. 4).

What would be the benefits of stopping 1 thing?

(5) Stop doing things you are not passionate about.
High Performance Habits, p. 213: “Life is short. We’re only allotted so much time to make our mark. I say that’s all the more reason to get focused. Stop producing outputs that don’t make your soul sing. Avoid trying to be effective or efficient doing things that you’re not proud of and make no impact. Determine what outputs really matter to you at this stage in your life, chart your five moves to accomplish your big dreams, and go make it happen while getting insanely good at what you do.”

(6) Stop dealing with symptoms.
Upstream, loc 205: “We can—and we should—stop dealing with the symptoms of problems, again and again, and start fixing them.”

(7) Stop avoiding your leadership responsibilities.
Your Next Five Moves, loc 1387: “You’re fixing bugs. Stop being a geek engineer, and be a leader.”

(8) Stop neglecting your responsibilities regarding managing your direct reports.
The Motive, loc 1147: “It’s a sign of neglect for a CEO to stop managing people just because he can get away with it.”

(9) Stop being an absentee manager and/or a micromanager.

(10) Stop avoiding “building a leadership team, managing subordinates, having difficult conversations, running effective meetings, and constantly repeating key messages to employees….”
The Motive, loc 1832: “…these five areas—building a leadership team, managing subordinates, having difficult conversations, running effective meetings, and constantly repeating key messages to employees—are not a list of the key responsibilities of the leader of an organization. These are simply the situations and responsibilities that leaders avoid all too often when they don’t see it as their job to do the things that no one else can.”

(11) Stop working without a vision.
How to Solve Your Turnover Problem: “Our decades of experience have taught us that staffing…boils down to one thing: vision. You need to stop looking at the secondary causes of turnover, and address the underlying problem. Either you don’t have a vision, or your team does not understand it.”

(12) Stop seeking solutions.
The Advice Trap, p. 83: “Your job is to stop seeking the solutions and start finding the challenges.”

(13) Stop accidentally diminishing others.

(14) Stop being the answer guy.
The Leadership Challenge, loc  5427: “Ask questions; stop giving answers.”

(15) Stop using questions to give advice.
The Coaching Habit, p. 75: “Stop offering up advice with a question mark attached. That doesn’t count as asking a question. If you’ve got an idea, wait. Ask, ‘And what else?’ and you’ll often find that the person comes up with that very idea that’s burning a hole in your brain. And if she doesn’t, then offer your idea—as an idea, not disguised as a fake question.”

(16) Stop agreeing to disagree.
At the Table with Patrick Lencioni: 26. Stop Agreeing to Disagree: “Conflict with trust is the pursuit of truth or the best idea.  Too many teams, families and friends stop short of the best answer because they “agree to disagree.”  Pat and Cody suggest a different approach – convince or be convinced.”

(17) Stop working with an inward mindset.

(18) Stop avoiding conflict.
At the Table with Patrick Lencioni: 3. The Upside of Conflict: “Mining for conflict is just going into a meeting and noticing that 2 people don’t quite agree on something and just saying, ‘Hey, you guys, I don’t think you agree on this, do you?’” 

(19) Stop celebrating busyness.
Essentialism, p. 26: “What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?”

(20) Stop asking for feedback and then not using it.
The Leadership Challenge, loc 2189: “Make changes and adjustments based on the feedback you receive; otherwise, people will stop bothering to provide it.”

How might stopping 1 thing help you serve more effectively as a leader?

(21) Stop being impersonal.
Radical Candor, loc 949: “…stop repressing your innate ability to care personally.”

(22) Stop fixing people.
Your Next Five Moves, loc 3805: “No matter whom you are managing, remember that the fastest way to lose them or frustrate them is to try to change them. I’ve made this mistake too many times in my career. Instead, find what drives them and position them in a way to win at the highest level. It may require you to change the lens through which you view them. Stop trying to fix people. Thinking you can change or fix people is delusional behavior.”

(23) Stop causing unnecessary conflict.
How Can You More Effectively Address Conflict?: One way to cause unnecessary conflict is by not consistently using best practices….”

(24) Stop analyzing things with words.
Your Next Five Moves, loc 2813: “Bad managers use qualitative data. They’ll analyze such a situation with words rather than numbers. They’ll say the person is lazy, dishonest, or unmotivated. Those words don’t do anything to solve the problem. Data, on the other hand, points to solutions. By relying on the data, you defuse the emotion from the situation. By focusing on the numbers, you help the other person acknowledge realities. This not only provides the impetus for improvement but preserves your relationship.”

(25) Stop practicing ruinous empathy, manipulative insincerity, and obnoxious aggression.

What helps you reflect?

Coffee helps me reflect—how about you?

Coffee, quiet, a way to capture my thinking (like a memo pad or computer), walking, more coffee—these things help me reflect. How about you? What helps you reflect?

Reflection is actually quite helpful. My wife says that reflection helps her learn from what she’s done right and wrong, celebrate good things, apply what she reads, and clarify her thinking. Reflection helps me relax and then assess what happened, solidify what I’m learning, develop questions, define problems, clarify my priorities, and design next steps, 

I find that reflection actually takes discipline, and 3 things that help me are regular reviews, blogging, and getting asked questions by my coach.

To what extent does solitude help you reflect?

(1) Reviews: I do annual, quarterly, weekly, and daily reviews. Let me explain.
Annual review: Each year, I take the LifeScore Assessment, review the results, and then develop goals designed to help me have my best year ever. My goals for this year include discussing a Christian book each week, finding 1 way to serve at the church we started attending, and helping 10 leaders thrive during the first quarter of 2021.

Quarterly reviews: At the start of the first quarter, I establish my quarterly Big 3—3 things I want to accomplish to move my annual goals forward. In subsequent quarterly reflections, I reflect on questions: Which annual goals were accomplished? Which annual goals need recommitment-revision-removal? What are my next Big 3?

Weekly reviews: At the start of the first week, I establish my weekly Big 3—3 things I want to accomplish to move my quarterly Big 3 forward. In subsequent weekly reviews, I reflect on questions:

What’s my vision? What are my annual goals and my motivations for those goals? What progress did I make on my quarterly Big 3? What progress did I make on my weekly Big 3? What are my next Big 3? Are my next Big 3 and calendar aligned? What’s my weekend rejuvenation plan?

Daily reviews: At the start of the first day, I establish my daily big 3—3 things I want to accomplish to move my weekly Big 3 forward. In subsequent daily reviews, I reflect on questions: What happened? What am I grateful for? What stood out? How did I thrive? What progress did I make on weekly Big 3? What progress did I make on daily Big 3? What are my next daily Big 3?

Bottom line: I do my daily Big 3 to move my weekly Big 3 forward—consequently moving my quarterly Big 3 forward, thereby (ultimately) moving my annual goals forward.

Full disclosure: Sometimes I do each review carefully and thoroughly, sometimes I don’t, and sometimes I don’t do a review. But I keep at it.

To what extent does writing help you reflect?

(2) Blogging regularly also helps me reflect. I tend to blog each week on things I am learning—which helps me solidify my learning.

To what extent does getting asked questions help you reflect?

(3) Getting asked questions by my coach also helps me reflect. Questions like:

  • To what extent are you living out your vision? How are you connecting with God, your wife, your family, and the local church? How’s your health? How are you growing? How are you helping others thrive? 
  • What’s your goal?  What’s currently happening? What are your options? What will you do?
  • What’s God teaching you?

What about you? What helps you reflect? How does reflection help you? How might reviews, blogging, and/or getting asked questions by a coach help you reflect?

What are you learning?

Here’s what I’m learning from Your Next 5 Moves:

  • “Great processors use the word “I” and see their role in whatever problem has occurred. They ask questions such as “How did I contribute to this? What did I do to cocreate this situation? How can I improve so I’ll be better equipped to handle something like this in the future?” Poor processors play the victim and blame others and external events rather than seeing how they contributed to the problem. You know you’re witnessing a poor processor when you don’t hear the word ‘I’” (loc 935).
  • “Processing Steps to Take When Someone Ticks You Off 1. Take responsibility for your role in what happened. 2. State specifically what you did to create the problem. 3. Channel your frustration into getting better and preventing future problems” (loc 983). 
  • “Before making a decision, start out with the “rule of three” by creating three different proposals for dealing with an issue, each with a different price tag” (loc 1033).
  • “The Eight Traits of a Great Processor The people I know who are expert processors have very different personalities and business strategies, but they share the following eight traits: 1. They ask lots of questions…. 2. They don’t care about being right or wrong… 3. They don’t make excuses…. 4. They like to be challenged…. 5. They’re curious…. 6. They prevent more problems than they solve…. 7. They make great negotiators…. 8. They’re more interested in permanently solving a problem than putting a Band-Aid on it” (loc 1081).
  • “ In my view, one of the keys to success is having a system. Those who have a system for making better decisions win. Some decisions are quick, while others take time. You need a specific methodology to attack any issue, the same way a chess master knows how to play any opening or defend against one once the match starts” (loc 1134).
  • “1. What benefits are you currently offering to others? 2. In what way do people improve by associating with you? 3. How many lives have you changed positively in the past year?” (loc 1354).

Michael

P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read that contain the word reflect, reflected, reflecting or reflection:

  1. “..the faster and busier things get, the more we need to build thinking time into our schedule. And the noisier things get, the more we need to build quiet reflection spaces in which we can truly focus” (Essentialism, p. 68).
  2. “Breakthroughs come when you reflect on your past, attend to the present, prospect the future, and express your passion” (The Leadership Challenge, loc 2364).
  3. “People don’t really learn when you tell them something. They don’t even really learn when they do something. They start learning, start creating new neural pathways, only when they have a chance to recall and reflect on what just happened” (The Coaching Habit, p. 187).
  4. “Influence is yours for as long as you interact with and lead people who know and respect you. There is no limit to how much influence you can accumulate. The arc of your authority is reflected on your résumé. Your influence is written in your character. It is an enduring life asset offering bountiful dividends” (You’re It, p. 85).
  5. “Empathy is the ability to accurately reflect what the person is feeling, experiencing, and saying. Great coaches create a safe environment where people simply feel understood” (Unlocking Potential, loc 253). 
  6. “Do our structures and systems reflect a basic paradigm of respect and trust?” (The Speed of Trust, p. 252)
  7. “Nothing kills trust faster than a leader who calls shots and makes assignments, only to blame everyone else when things go wrong. Trust wilts in the presence of leaders who absorb the limelight. It grows when they reflect it on their team members” (The 10 Laws of Trust, loc 863).
  8. “The fact is, in the absence of information, your team will make up the worst possible version of the truth, usually reflecting their worst fears. This deceptively simple rule is the reason for many of the rumors circulating within your team and at your company” (The Art of Leadership, p.126).
  9. “A company’s culture is the expression of the values of the people within the organization. It is the sum of the behavior of the people, not a reflection of what you want it to be. People do what people see—and they keep doing it. What people do on an ongoing, habitual basis creates culture” (The Leader’s Greatest Return, loc 891).
  10. “Look at your life right now. Whatever you see, that’s what you’re committed to. Whatever you currently weigh, that’s the weight you’re committed to. However much money you make, that’s how much money you’re committed to making. Your commitment in life is reflected, 100 percent, by the results you’re currently getting. If you were committed to something else, you’d have different results” (Personality Isn’t Permanent, loc. 1288).

How can you more effectively address conflict?

How do you feel about addressing conflict?

You want to address conflict more effectively. You browse some articles like 5 Common Ways That Leaders (Unintentionally) Cause Conflict and Why Your Leadership Style May Be the Source of the Conflict. You realize that addressing conflict is a bit more complicated than you thought. And you decide to move forward, but how? Good question! Consider reflecting on the following 5 questions:

  • What is conflict?
  • How might you be causing unnecessary conflict? 
  • What could you do to reduce the unnecessary conflict you cause?
  • How could you more effectively address remaining conflict?
  • What will you do?

Let me provide sample responses to each of the 5 questions:
(A) What is conflict? Conflict is violated expectations.

(B) How might you be causing unnecessary conflict? One way to cause unnecessary conflict is by not consistently using best practices, for example:

  1. Practicing the 4 disciplines of organizational health: building a cohesive leadership team, creating clarity, overcommunicating the clarity, and reinforcing the clarity.
  2. Addressing root causes of employee disengagement, for example, anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurement.
  3. Having a good GRIP on the game you are playing by using Goals that are FASTer and SMARTER, by clarifying Roles, by developing healthy Interpersonal relationships, and/or by developing, documenting, and implementing effective Processes.
  4. Ensuring that new ideas use the 3-step process of ideation, activation, and implementation.
  5. Using a proactive, growth, abundance mindset.
  6. Asking for feedback and doing self-disclosure (see Johari Window: video, exercise, disclosure/feedback questionnaire).
  7. Practicing trust-building behaviors:

Or how about these 7 best practices? How consistently do you implement these?

  1. Practicing the 7 habits (see above).
  2. Meeting or exceeding job expectations.
  3. Holding yourself to an equal or higher standard than you hold others to.
  4. Underpromising and overdelivering.
  5. Ensuring there is a clear understanding of what is to be done.
  6. Living out, as Simon Sinek says, that “the real job of a leader is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in our charge…. [It’s not about being] responsible for the job…[it’s about being] responsible for the people who are responsible for the job.”
  7. Multiplying others, instead of accidentally diminishing others:

And how about these 7 best practices? Might they play a role in you causing unnecessary conflict?

  1. Practicing partnership management (see center column in the above chart), instead of absentee management or micromanagement.
  2. Using an outward mindset that focuses on working to make life easier for others (instead of using an inward mindset that blames others). Using an outward mindset includes using a workstyle that helps others be more productive.
  3. Appreciating and leveraging people’s personality types and working geniuses.
  4. Holding effective meetings. Meetings should be one of the best things you do! Through meetings, you can help your direct reports, team, and organization to thrive.
  5. Creating consistency and transparency by developing, documenting, and giving access to policies, plans, processes, and priorities.
  6. Prioritizing people over resources/profits.
  7. Simultaneously caring personally and challenging directly (see below).

(C) What can you do to reduce the unnecessary conflict you cause? Consistently use best practice.

(D) How can you more effectively address remaining conflict? By using a both/and approach. By simultaneously…

(E) What will you do?

What about you? What is conflict? How might you be causing unnecessary conflict? What could you do to reduce the unnecessary conflict you cause? How could you more effectively address remaining conflict? What will you do?

What are you learning?

Here’s what I’m learning:

Michael

How can you develop a culture of radical candor?

How can you simultaneously care personally and challenge directly?

You want to grow. You want others to grow. And you know that this means better conversations and better feedback—in others words, a culture of radical candor. So, how can you develop a culture of radical candor, of simultaneously caring personally and challenging directly?

What kind of feedback do you tend to give? What’s the result? (source)

My response? Don’t start with your boss. Don’t start with your colleagues. And don’t start with your direct reports. Instead, start with yourself. That’s right: it starts with you—no one else. Just you.

How can you start with yourself? Well, identify ways you can start with yourself. Ways that come to mind for me include:

  1. Learning more about radical candor (by reading the book, watching a video, listening to the podcast—especially episode 1, and/or taking The Feedback Loop, an online course that is both helpful and fun).
  2. Deepening my understanding of why I need to start with myself—this podcast is helpful, for example, “It’s got to start with you. You’ve got to care about yourself, and you’ve got to challenge yourself. If you want to change a culture, be the change you want to see in the world.”
  3. Using the radical candor quadrants (see above chart) to assess my communication, and then committing to more radical candor (caring personally and challenging directly).
  4. Generating (self) feedback on what I’m learning and doing by blogging, by doing weekly reviews to assess my progress, and by getting coaching.
  5. Soliciting criticism with a go-to question and giving praise that is both specific and sincere.
  6. Practicing vulnerability and curiosity (including, seeking first to understand).
How can you be the change you want to see?

Please note what starting with yourself doesn’t include:

  1. Giving criticism to others.
  2. Asking others to learn about radical candor, or asking others to apply what you’re learning about radical candor.
  3. Using the radical candor quadrants (see above chart) to assess how others communicate.
  4. Developing shared understanding that the “purpose of praise is…to show them what success looks like, to show them what’s valued. It’s not to make them feel better…. Praise is not how you show you care personally…. Criticism…is helping people know what to do better…” (Radical Candor Podcast Episode 1: What Is Radical Candor?).
  5. Generating feedback in weekly 1-on-1s and annual performance reviews.
  6. Using a schedule of meetings (like those suggested in Death by Meeting) to provide venues for radical candor.

The above 6 things are good things to do. However, they should be pursued after you have consistently and thoroughly started with yourself.

What about you? How can you develop a culture of radical candor? How can you start with yourself? What’s not included in starting with yourself?

What are you learning?

Here’s what I’m learning:

Michael

P.S. To learn more about giving feedback (what Kim Scott refers to as “guidance”) check out this video.

What helps you and others grow?

What’s 1 thing that helps you grow?

Like you, I want to grow and help others grow. Things that support growth include setting goals and action steps, securing the necessary funding and coaching, regularly working on and reflecting on goals, and getting feedback. Getting feedback (praise and criticism) that, according to Kim Scott (author of Radical Candor), demonstrates 2 things simultaneously: caring personally and challenging directly:

  • “Caring personally is the antidote to both robotic professionalism and managerial arrogance. Why do I say ‘caring personally’ instead of just “caring”? Because it’s not enough to care about the person’s work or the person’s career. Only when you actually care about the whole person with your whole self can you build a relationship” (Radical Candor, loc 413).
  • “Challenging others and encouraging them to challenge you helps build trusting relationships because it shows 1) you care enough to point out both the things that aren’t going well and those that are and that 2) you are willing to admit when you’re wrong and that you are committed to fixing mistakes that you or others have made. But because challenging often involves disagreeing or saying no, this approach embraces conflict rather than avoiding it” (Radical Candor, loc 435).
What happens when you give feedback (praise and criticism) that doesn’t simultaneously demonstrate caring personally and challenging directly? (Source)

What kind of feedback (praise and criticism) helps/hinders growth? Feedback that helps me grow is frequent, specific, sincere, clear, kind, and polite; while feedback that hinders my growth is infrequent, vague, insincere, unclear, obnoxious, and aggressive. And I find that Kim Scott really provides helpful insights on feedback, for example:

(1) Show that you care personally and challenge directly by giving feedback that is HIP:

(2) Be sure you are clear on the purpose of praise and criticism. “The purpose of praise is to help people know what to do more of, to show them what success looks like, to show them what’s valued. It’s not to make them feel better…. Praise is not how you show you care personally…. Criticism…is helping people know what to do better…” (Radical Candor Podcast Episode 1: What Is Radical Candor?).

(3) Give praise that is specific and sincere; give criticism that is kind and clear.

(4) When giving criticism, use the CORE framework:

(5) “Feedback is measured not at your mouth, but at the other person’s ear” (see video below):

What about you? What helps you and others grow? What kind of feedback (praise and criticism) helps/hinders growth?

Michael

P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word feedback:

  1. “Solicit and listen to feedback” (Leading with Trust: 10 Powerful Ways to Build Trust).
  2. “The best way to make your feedback heard is to make the listener feel safe, and to show that you’re saying it because you care about her and want her to succeed” (The Making of a Manager, p. 97).
  3. “Leaders provide feedback to help people see what they are not seeing” (Everyone Deserves a Great Manager, loc 1282).
  4. “…when performance conversations are powered by partnership, the landscape shifts. Not only do managers enjoy better relationships with their teams, but their feedback may even produce greater joy, not fear…Rather than offer directives, managers ask probing questions that help them better understand the picture of work and entrust their employees with opportunities to shape the way forward” (Good Feedback Is a Two-Way Conversation).
  5. “Get more skilled at delivering feedback to help your colleagues understand the unintended impact of their behavior” (The Good Fight, p. 170).
  6. “Just because someone offers you feedback doesn’t mean you need to do anything with it. Learn how to handle feedback in a gracious manner and you will make the other person feel as if they have been heard, while deciding for yourself whether the feedback is helpful” (Leading with Grace, loc 1196).
  7. “There are two places to practise where feedback can come thick and fast: places where it’s safe, and places where it’s hopeless” (The Advice Trap, p. 160).
  8. “…leaders who default to giving advice ‘resist feedback from others, are less likeable and are ineffective at developing others’” (The Advice Trap, p. 7).
  9. “Conflict debt is the sum of all the contentious issues that need to be addressed to be able to move forward but instead remain undiscussed and unresolved. Conflict debt can be as simple as withholding the feedback that would allow your colleague to do a better job and as profound as continually deferring a strategic decision while getting further and further behind the competition” (The Good Fight, p. 9).
  10. “Members of teams with an absence of trust…. Hesitate to ask for help or provide constructive feedback” (The Difference Trust Makes).

How can you improve your conversations?

What’s 1 thing you could improve on as leader?

Name one thing. Name one thing you could improve on that would help you address all of the following leadership responsibilities: 

  • Developing a culture of trust and collaboration.
  • Building relationships with direct reports.
  • Developing a cohesive leadership team.
  • Creating clarity.
  • Getting results and helping others do the same.
  • Facilitating team meetings and 1-on-1 meetings.
  • Helping direct reports grow and thrive.
How good are your conversations with others?

My answer? Conversation—having better conversations. In my experience, the quality of my leading (or the quality of the leadership I am following) is directly related to the quality of the conversation. 

  • When conversations are infrequent, impersonal, behind my back/gossipy, ambiguous, and without an invitation to share my perspective, the leadership is ineffective.
  • When conversations are frequent, caring, to my face (not behind my back), clear and transparent, and with an invitation to share my perspectives, the leadership is effective.

How about you? In your experience, what’s the relationship between the quality of leadership and the quality of conversation?

Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor, reminds leaders to “simultaneously care personally and challenge directly” (Radical Candor Podcast Episode 1: What Is Radical Candor?). Watch the following video to learn more:

(Something that helps me show I care and allows me to challenge directly is being genuinely curious about others—who they are and what they think. And to demonstrate my curiosity, I seek first to understand and ask questions. How do you demonstrate your curiosity?)

Scott emphasizes that no-good, very bad conversations (and leadership) happen when leaders don’t simultaneously care and challenge:

  • Care without challenge results in ruinous empathy—leaders say nice things and don’t clearly, specifically say what would actually help (see example). Result? Direct reports don’t grow.
  • Challenge without care results in obnoxious aggression—leaders act like jerks and speak harshly, perhaps with raised voices (see example). Result? Direct reports feel defensive and don’t really grow.
  • A lack of care and challenge results in manipulative insincerity—leaders get passive aggressive, political, and gossipy (see example). Result? Direct reports don’t feel trusted and don’t grow.
To help your direct reports grow even more, which quadrant(s)— Ruinous Empathy • Insincere Manipulation • Obnoxious Aggression—do you want to do less of? (Source)

What about you? How can you improve your conversations? To what extent do your conversations show that you care personally and challenge directly? Which factor (caring personally or challenging directly) do you want to do more of so you can lead even more effectively?

What are you learning?

Here’s what I’m learning:

  • Keith Webb: “Your ability to get things done, build relationships, make changes, and help other people grow depends on the quality of your conversations.”
  • Radical Candor, loc 318: “…relationships are core to your job. They determine whether you can fulfill your three responsibilities as a manager: 1) to create a culture of guidance (praise and criticism) that will keep everyone moving in the right direction; 2) to understand what motivates each person on your team well enough to avoid burnout or boredom and keep the team cohesive; and 3) to drive results collaboratively.”
  • Radical Candor, loc 331: “Your ability to build trusting, human connections with the people who report directly to you will determine the quality of everything that follows.”

Michael

P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word candor and/or curiosity:

  1. “Conversational capacity is the ability to have open, balanced, non-defensive dialogue about tough subjects and in challenging circumstances. Teams that have a high conversational capacity know how to stay in the ‘sweet spot…. So how do you get your team to stay in the sweet spot? You balance candor and curiosity. Being candid means having open, honest, forthright, and direct conversations. Remaining curious in a conversation means being open-minded, inquisitive, and eager to learn” (Leading with Trust: The 2 Factors That Drive Powerful and Productive Team Conversations).
  2. “…every leader can overcome resistance to change by addressing these three challenges: the change challenge, which you overcome with clarity about what’s changing and what’s not; the personnel challenge that you overcome with candor and inclusion, letting people know exactly where they are in the picture; and the feedback challenge, which you overcome with objectivity about the change and a willingness to listen to feedback” (Lead to Win: 3 Challenges in Managing Change).
  3. “We know we’re communicating in an open, balanced, nondefensive way when there is balance between candor and curiosity” (Conversational Capacity, loc 292).
  4. “…when I say a team has high conversational capacity, I’m saying it has the discipline to balance candor and curiosity in challenging circumstances that throw less disciplined teams off center” (Conversational Capacity, loc 299).
  5. “Under what circumstances in life do I find myself minimizing at the expense of my effectiveness? Under what circumstances do I let go of curiosity and argue to win at the expense of my good intentions?” (Conversational Capacity, loc 837)
  6. “Effective inquiry is always grounded in curiosity, in a genuine desire to learn” (Influence in Action, p. 180).
  7. “Learning to listen with intense focus is another high-leverage practice. Listening well requires mental strength, mindful awareness, curiosity, and even humility. It’s also the gateway to learning. It does no good, after all, to test your views, or to inquire into the views of others, if you don’t listen to the responses you get” (Influence in Action, p. 121). 
  8. “Joe Folkman of Zenger Folkman found that leaders who default to giving advice ‘resist feedback from others, are less likeable and are ineffective at developing others.’ In a similar vein, leadership researcher Liz Wiseman found that ‘intellectual curiosity’—asking questions and being more coach-like—was the characteristic that most distinguished leaders who best created impact (called Multiplier leaders) from those who didn’t” (The Advice Trap, p. 7). 
  9. “I’d like for you to work on your curiosity and critical thinking skills. You’re often quick with answers, which can be helpful, but not as helpful as having the right questions, which is how you’ll grow as a leader” (Daring to Lead, loc 1315).
  10. “Participate in your teams, projects, and organizations in a way that cultivates the higher aspects of your humanity—candor, curiosity, courage, humility, conviction, and compassion” (Influence in Action, p. 5).

How can your team successfully address the challenges it is facing?

How aware is your team of the challenges it is facing?

Challenges—your team (though focused on projects and though feeling the effects of coronavirus) needs to face its challenges. Thinking about encouraging your already busy team to face its challenges, to do one more thing, seems daunting. I get it—who wants to make everyone busier? Who wants to feel like the bearer of bad news?

On the other hand, what happens when your team isn’t aware of its challenges, when it isn’t facing its challenges? No-good, very bad things happen. And on the other hand, what if facing current challenges actually made things easier, got the team working together even more efficiently and effectively? 

What happens when your team is unclear about the challenges it is facing?

You might be wondering, “Well, what can I do to help the team face its challenges?” Here are 4 steps that help me:

  1. Collaboratively identifying the challenges and choosing 1 challenge to address.
  2. Collaboratively identifying possible solutions.
  3. Collaboratively designing and implementing an experiment to address the challenge.
  4. Collaboratively reflecting on the results of the experiment and making appropriate adjustments.

Note that each step begins with the word “collaboratively.” Your team needs to do each step—together.

What helps your team work together to face challenges?

Let’s take a closer look at each step:

(1) Collaboratively identify the challenges. Ways to do this include…

  • Asking, What challenges are we facing?” Next, brainstorm a list, analyze the list, and then ask, “What challenges should we address? If we successfully address the challenges, what might happen?”
  • Doing a SWOT, analyzing the results, and asking, “What challenges do we need to address to move forward?”
  • Doing some professional development together (for example, on the Greiner Curve or the GRIP model). Next, have the team reflect on what it learned, and then ask, “What challenges are we facing?”
  • Asking questions: What helps/hinder us? What do we need to KeepStartStop doing? How is our system perfectly designed to produce the results we’re getting? What’s the real challenge here for us?

Next, ask the team to select 1 challenge to address.

(2) Collaboratively identify possible solutions. Ways to do this include…

  • Asking questions like, “What might help us address this challenge?”
  • Securing the services of a consultant to work with the team.
  • Reviewing best practice in terms of mindsets, models, and practices (see Toolbox below).
Toolbox:

Mindsets: Ideal Team Player, Leadershift, Multipliers, Outward Mindset, and Speed of Trust

Models: Advantage, Greiner Curve (video), GRIP, Lead Develop Care, Team Performance Curve (video), Truth About Employee Engagement, and WIDGET.

Practices: 7 Habits, Coaching, Conversational Capacity, Death by Meeting, and Radical Candor (video).

(3) Collaboratively design and implement an experiment to address the challenge. Here’s an example: To help your team do healthier conflict:

  • Have the team learn together about conflict management styles and commit to using a collaborative style.
  • Study and practice Radical Candor (video)—I recommend you try taking an e-course entitled The Feedback Loop.
  • Assign someone to be the conflict miner for each team meeting.
  • At the end of each team meeting ask, “How’d we do on dealing with conflict in a healthy way?”

(4) Finally, collaboratively reflect on the results and make appropriate adjustments.

What about you? What challenges is your team facing? Which challenge do you want to address? What are possible solutions? What experiment could you try to address the challenge?

What are you learning?

Here’s what I’m learning:

  • Lead to Win: Don’t Sabotage Your Company With This Oversight: “If you want your company to grow, the solution probably isn’t a better strategy. Your leadership is the cap of your company. If you’re not growing, your company won’t be, either—with consequences for your results, your team, and your impact on the world.”
  • Leading in Times of Disruption: “Some…leaders…thrive when there are no major disruptions. They build the team, increase productivity, and forge ahead…. [Some leaders] thrive in the chaos of unpredictability, see options others cannot see, and ask a lot of their teams while making dramatic decisions that lead to often successful outcomes…. As leaders, we need to be able to lead in both types of environments. When the times of massive disruption die down, we will again need an approach that builds on stability.”
  • Radical Candor Podcast Episode 1: What Is Radical Candor?: “You need to simultaneously care personally and challenge directly.”

Michael

P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word challenge or challenges:

  1. “What kinds of challenges bring out the best in you?” (Positive Questions Create Positive Results)
  2. “How might the challenges your organization is facing relate to mindset?” (Outward Mindset Introductory Video Course)
  3. “What’s the real challenge here for you?” (The Coaching Habit ‒ 7 Questions to Ask)
  4. “The future belongs to those who believe in it and have the belief, resilience, positivity, and optimism to overcome all the challenges in order to create it” (The Power of Positive Leadership, loc 316).
  5. “When you approach each challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow while leading in your authentic way, things change” (Leading with Grace, loc 1882).
  6. “Each time you confront a challenge, whether it’s sitting in cold water or getting out of hot water, the first thing you must do is take charge of the conversation inside your head. You need to build a strong platform to lead others. You need to be able to keep your focus steady even when the voices around you are telling you to quit. And you need to be able to inspire your team members to shut those voices out too” (Unstoppable Teams, loc 260).
  7. “…every leader can overcome resistance to change by addressing these three challenges: the change challenge, which you overcome with clarity about what’s changing and what’s not; the personnel challenge that you overcome with candor and inclusion, letting people know exactly where they are in the picture; and the feedback challenge, which you overcome with objectivity about the change and a willingness to listen to feedback” (Lead to Win: 3 Challenges in Managing Change).
  8. “Teams made up of demotivated receivers and overwhelmed givers are less able to find and focus on the real challenge” (The Advice Trap, p. 9).
  9. “What we, as team members, want from you, our team leader, is firstly that you make us feel part of something bigger, that you show us how what we are doing together is important and meaningful; and secondly, that you make us feel that you can see us, and connect to us, and care about us, and challenge us, in a way that recognizes who we are as individuals” (Nine Lies About Work, loc 317).
  10. “Empathizing with the challenges and realities of a job is vital for managers” (Eat Sleep Work Repeat, loc 2334).