WHAT'S YOUR PROVOCATIVE QUESTION?

WHAT’S YOUR PROVOCATIVE QUESTION?

What do you collect?

I’ve met collectors of shoes, cars, houses and recipes! I simply or crazily collect questions.

Great questions can: transform a superficial conversation into an extraordinary relationship; unlock the real you … someone whom you thought you really knew and questions can elevate your happiness (think: Will you marry me?)

I glean questions at every opportunity. I record them, highlight them in a book, send myself recorded messages when I hear questions and their answers – quite alarming when I think of it!

So, it was very exciting to be handed a book which was filled with questions. That’s a Great Question, written or should I say, collated by Greg Bustin, provides on a platter, hundreds of tried and tested provacative questions, categorized into themed chapters – handy if you’re coaching others or as I found myself, using it as a self-help coaching book. Don’t be fooled thinking it’s a one hour read!

This book is your ideal, end of year practical exercise to prepare for 2017. As Greg suggests, take yourself away from your normal space; go hiking, block out a day to work through this book. Surprisingly, I am still reading this book today (Sunday) as I have found myself continually stopping in search on the answers.

In my business this week, we completed a mini-skills session with a client – exploring a couple of models to coach staff. I am always amazed how people come to realise how powerful a conversation becomes by using great questions to dig and discover.

Greg says that using questions effectively is like a dance. I agree. It’s not a checklist. It’s a conversation which you can exercise your lead but it’s about two people committed to working together. Whilst it might not look like Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers on the dancefloor, it should feel like a performance (of achievement).

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers - Courtesy of DHC Treasures

I couldn’t decide on a favourite question to share; so I’ve selected a few from a few of the thoughtfully categorised sections of the book. Use these on yourself and be surprised how time consuming it can be truthfully respond.

Purpose

If our company did not exist, what would the world be missing?What gives me a sense of certainty?

Values

What’s one principle I wished everyone practised?

Goal Setting

If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I do?

Trust

What am I kidding myself about?

How do I respond when I place my trust in someone and they let me down?

Communication

If a stranger walked in and asked any employee about our vision, mission and strategy, what would they hear?

Leadership

Do I behave differently in the office than at home? If so, in what ways? If so, what causes my behaviour to differ from place to place?

Time Management

If I tracked my time in 30 minute increments for a month, what would I find? Is this how I should spend my time?

Talent + Teamwork

Who are five people I spend most of my time with? Are they helping me or holding me back?

What am I doing to help make this job the best job my people have ever had?

Customer + Prospects

What memorable experience are we creating with our customers?

Making Things Happen

Do we measure the things that are important to us?

Are we having fun? Am I having fun?

Accountability

Whose job am I doing today? (I do like this question.)

Blue Sky

What would I do if I didn’t work?

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. – Albert Einstein

 

The book provides tips to help you coach others effectively, how to structure your questions, which words to never use and rules to abide by to establish a trusting relationship where private information is shared.

My greatest tip for you is to use the book on yourself first. Leadership works well when there is authentic self-awareness. Let this book be your gift to others by getting yourself ready for an awesome 2017. Alternatively, gift yourself a Coach for 2017 and get in contact with me to discover your best self.

 

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

The New Leadership

The New Leadership

Did you miss the news? There’s a new leadership in town!

Take a moment and consider which version or brand of leadership you are using at the moment.

Is it out of date, redundant, out of touch and not meeting the demands of your customers? Or, have your customers and people not changed in the past five, 10 or 15 years? Just think of the arrival of the Millennials – different expectations, values and focus.

Whilst we speed through life, navigating Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA – a military term), it’s a reminder that we need to be flexible in our approach to lead our relationships and interact with technology which we never dreamed of using five years ago.

We need to reinvent our leadership, learn the capabilities of being adaptive and agile according to Dr Simon Hayward, author of Connected Leadership, who skilfully turned his doctoral research into a must read. Incorporating client case studies in his capacity as CEO of Cirrus (International Leadership Consultancy) we travel the many changes which prominent world known businesses have implemented to keep customer focused, profitable and proud of their leadership brand, many of whom have adopted the Connected Leadership framework.

A connected style of leadership leverages off the learnings from previous styles, applying behaviours which meet the demands of the 21st century and departs from 20th century practices of heroic and hierarchical command and control. (Consider placement of car parking spaces – Customer vs. C suite). We need to keep adapting our leadership to keep up with change; in particular with social media, where customer experiences are often played out on the global stage with millions in the audience, exaggerating the effect of the connections.

 

Given my reading journey, navigating approximately 5000 pages in 18 weeks, I found Simon’s book will summerise what we’re expecting of our leaders in 2016. You can then delve further into content in other books which I’ve recently reviewed – think Making Sense, Adaptive Leadership and Your Leadership Edge.

Being agile, moving quickly and easily, needs a strong spine of clear purpose and direction and a strong sense of shared values with the flexile muscles of colleagues who are empowered to take decisions based on their proximity to customers and a willingness to trust and collaborate.

 So, how connected is the leadership in your company? (Spine and Muscle) You can assess your organisation by completing a simple survey in the book. This reinforces the framework helping you mentally measure components of your leadership and business practices. These are the five key factors contributing to a style of leadership suited to this connected world in which we live. Would your customers and people describe your style of leadership which incorporates:

Purpose and direction – a common understanding of why the business exists, helping people make sense of how their roles relates to the purpose of the business.

Authenticity – values, ethics and a behavioural framework are consistently followed with a high level of trust and respect is experienced

Devolved decision making – decision makers are determined on who is best placed, their proximity and relationship with the customer

Collaborative Achievement – there is open dialogue and mutual influence to focus on end to end processes to achieve efficiency, collective merit and a breakthrough of bureaucratic silos to produce new answers to old problems

Agility – fail fast and learn – full stop! Enable people to adapt to changing circumstances, share what they learn and build a culture which supports experimentation (remember continuous improvement) without blame. I contacted Simon and he mentioned that if he were to do a second edition, he’d add some Agile methodologies to help you.

To tweak your style of leadership following this five part framework, I noted in my read that you need to concentrate on these specifics leadership practices:

Sense making – help people understand the importance of what they are doing in the organisation

Storytelling – inspire with your communication to help connect colleagues with strategy

Strong moral compass – be accountable for your behaviours which are based on your values

Share power – delegate decision making to others in your business who are closer to the customer

Self-aware – seek behavioural consistency by tuning into your emotions to manage your reactions

Solicit feedback – receive feedback with good grace and look for any lessons you can take.

Amongst the lessons there were many quotes and I was drawn to - You need to have five fingers touching the factory and five touching the customer. Amancio Ortega is the founder of the Spanish fashion chain Zara, (part of Inditex), which has been operating for over 40 years, has 6,500 stores in 88 countries. Referenced regularly in the book, it’s current and very interesting.

We all have customers in our life, maybe not as many as Zara, and interestingly, Simon’s final chapter is targeted at political leaders: tips on how they can apply the leadership framework to their role. Bravo I say – let’s encourage our local Politicians to read this book to think of their constituents as customers - maybe we should gift the book to each of our representatives.

Whilst it’s clichéd, I think all leaders and better still, those expected to demonstrate leadership, should read this book. It could well lead to aspirations of changing your organisation to becoming more agile and customer driven.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!