• Print

The 5 Key Questions Leaders Need To Ask Themselves

As you look ahead into 2020, it's likely to be another year of unpredictable market conditions, political uncertainty and trade tensions across the globe, and so the question to ponder - is your leadership ready for it?
As leaders, it's easy to think that the skills that got you to where you are now are the skills that will carry you forward. Success requires you to periodically look at yourself and work out what needs to shift and change. The 5 Key Questions Leaders Need To Ask Themselves

Herminia Ibarra, the Charles Handy Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the London Business School has researched what can hold people, particularly leaders, back as they progress through their career.

She found that the sense of who we are is shaped by our experiences and the meaning we put on those experiences in terms of the stories we tell ourselves. At points in our career, those stories are no longer helpful and we need to find a new narrative.

She writes: Most of us have personal narratives about defining moments that taught us important lessons. Consciously or not, we allow our stories, and the images of ourselves that they paint, to guide us in new situations. But the stories can become outdated as we grow, so sometimes it's necessary to alter them dramatically or even to throw them out and start from scratch.

But it is more than that. We also hold on to fears, assumptions and even grudges. We have expectations on others that don't help the relationship. We have expectations of ourselves that need to change too.

Just as hoarders need to clean out their closets and throw away the junk that is cluttering their home, it is helpful for leaders to challenge their assumptions and thought processes, and to then throw away ideas and pre-conceived conceptions that may be holding their leadership back.

This isn't easy. It's much easier to sit back and identify how your team members or colleagues need to change, than to identify what may need to change in you. However, to effectively lead in such a complex and ever-changing environment, you need to understand yourself and then be open to shifting your mindset, operating style and behaviour to suit the demands of the environment.

This starts by asking yourself five key questions:
  1. What am I holding on to that is preventing me from changing and moving forward?
  2. Am I holding on to expectations or grudges with respect to people that is damaging my relationship with them?
  3. Are the expectations I place on myself too hard or too easy?
  4. What am I telling myself about what I can and can't do?
  5. What daily practices and habits do I have that are holding me back from being the best version of me?
Doing this successfully requires curiosity and an openness to think differently. The upside is the results that will arise - elevated awareness and new insights. And with both of those benefits you'll be better placed to make change happen not only within you, but in your team and organisation.

As the well-known author of The Alchemist and other best-selling titles, Paulo Coelho said, "If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello".

Author Credits

Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert, who works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is the author of Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work and Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate Your Career. For more information, visit her website at www.michellegibbings.com

  • Print