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Fundamental Questions for Leaders

February 23, 2012

I recently came across the work of Ronald Heifetz, on Leadership and was impressed with the simplicity and power of his work.

English: Cantick Head Lighthouse by night Take...

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Here’s an extract of his work, and some takeaways I had. Hope they hold meaning for you too.

Mustering the courage to interrogate reality is a central function of a leader. And that requires the courage to face three realities at once.

First, what values do we stand for — and are there gaps between those values and how we actually behave?

Second, what are the skills and talents of our company — and are there gaps between those resources and what the market demands?

Third, what opportunities does the future hold — and are there gaps between those opportunities and our ability to capitalize on them?

And this is the strength of Heifetz’ work. Three questions that appear simple and yet hold the power to influence the course of an entire organization.

The first question establishes integrity. Leadership and organizational integrity. It also establishes integrity with respect to vision, for aren’t values the bedrock that will support the journey to the vision? This question is a “forever” focused question. For values are foundational and form the bedrock of the organization. Mostly, throughout it’s lifecycle.

The second question, demands a clarification of the capabilities/skills required to succeed in the playing field, the organization operates in. And aims to establish whether the organization is adequately equipped with those capabilities. This question is present focused. It focuses on today.

The third question is forward looking. It pushes the mind to the future and demands a prediction of how the markets, customers, competitors will evolve in future. And it seeks to establish the capabilities that will be required to capitalize on this likely future. 

These 3 questions could form the basis for any high-level leadership discussion on the present state of an organization. The changes required. And preparation for the future.

If you’re a CEO, C-level executive, function-head, regional-head or location-head. These 3 vital questions could help you perform better and grow in the future.

These questions are Lighthouse, X-ray and Searchlight. Use them well.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Saini Jarnail Singh permalink
    February 25, 2012 2:49 pm

    Nice One

  2. gurprrietsiingh permalink*
    February 24, 2012 1:11 pm

    Reblogged this on LearnOD.

  3. Wali Kashvi permalink
    February 23, 2012 2:58 pm

    Good insights Gurpriet – Valuable questions for sure!

  4. Fal Ghancha permalink
    February 23, 2012 11:22 am

    Nicely said…….

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      February 23, 2012 11:24 am

      Thanks Fal! I continue to be impressed by the power of these questions.

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