Lead by Telling or Lead by Questioning by Jim Johnson

We’ve all had “that boss” who would dictate directions from afar.  We would be fearful of taking any action on most anything for fear that we were heading in a direction that they would not like.  So, we sat on our hands waiting for our orders.

Leading by telling is not an effective or efficient way to get things done.

One of the things I’ve tried to get better at is to lead by questioning.  This leadership tactic has required me to roll up my sleeves and spend time with my team leaders.  I’ve worked hard to build trusting relationships with them so they aren’t afraid to disagree with me, challenge me or question me.  I’ve had to make it safe to do this with me – the “ownness” is on me.

Just the other day, I sat down with one of my first-year leaders to talk about some results I needed to see improved.  I had been using a report that, I thought, demonstrated the need for improvement in a sales area.  I asked her a lot of questions about the performance of her team and how she managed them in this particular area.   She began questioning where this report came from, who showed it to me, and was it the same report that the lending department actually used.  Since someone in lending gave me the report, I had assumed (oops) that the report was valid.  It was not.  I was able to find the right report and we both got on the same page right away.   But I only learned this when this leader questioned me on it.  We then created a better tracking mechanism that she can use with her team to predict their performance by month’s end.  It was a very good use of our time.

In this interaction, there were a lot of questions and clarifications being used – and this was healthy.  We got to the heart of the matter.  I worked hard not to simply tell this manager to “fix it”, but we talked through the issue and found the resolution that we both needed.

In her post “If You’re Always Giving Order, You’re Not a Great Leader”, Jessica Stillman shares the following:

“Think about a leader and chances are your first image is of someone giving orders — maybe it’s the quarterback in a huddle outlining the next play for his teammates, maybe it’s an army officer coolly  barking commands in the heat of combat. But chances are, when many of us think of leadership, we picture a person telling others what to do.

After all, that’s the essence of leadership, right?

Wrong, says Christine Comaford, an executive coach and author of SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together who recently participated in a series of interviews on the website of fellow author Keith Ferrazzi. In the course of a long exchange about leadership, she tells the story of an executive she was coaching who couldn’t stop telling his employees how to do day-to-day things.”

She goes on to say that when a leader asks more questions vs. telling the employee what to do, good things happen:

  • The employee learns that they do have responsibilities (and the abilities) to get things done on their own.
  • The leader cannot create an environment where the staff will not act unless they get permission.  Nothing will get done this way.
  • The leader and the employee will both learn more with this method.

“The great leaders are like the best conductors –

they reach beyond the notes to reach the magic in the players.” –Blaine Lee

11 Things Great Leaders Do by Mark Hunter


The biggest thing holding back organizations is the lack of leadership.

I’m continually asked by companies large and small, “What are the traits that make a great leader?”

Here is my list of what it takes to be a great leader:

1. Leaders realize their number one job is not to lead others but to create other leaders.

How many times have we watched a terrific organization fall apart when the leader retires or exits their position?

Unfortunately, it happens far too much and it’s due to what I call “ego-leadership.” It’s where the leader wants to be the one in charge and does little to ensure there are others capable of stepping up and leading.

2. Leaders know their results are measured not by what happens when they’re present, but by what happens when they’re not present.

The organization that falls apart the moment the leader is not present is indicative of one being led not by a leader, but by a manager.

3. Leaders know it’s not what they do that matters, but what their people do that matters

They know their own limits and realize the real power of an organization is when everyone is contributing and focused.

Read the rest here: http://thesaleshunter.com/11-things-great-leaders-do-that-managers-only-think-about/

Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.

Unlock Relationships that Transform Leadership by Dan Rockwell


Note from JJ: A few years ago, I was approached to “mentor” an employee (not one if my direct reports. I soon learned from the senior executive who asked me to do this that he actually wanted me to “fix” this person. That’s not mentoring. Dan Rockwell has written a great post on what mentoring should be about…

I knew too much when I was younger. Now that I’m older, I have the same problem. But, the thing that most expands leadership is the belief that we don’t know.

Those who think they know are worse off than those who know they don’t.

Everyone who’s afraid to look dumb, remains dumb. We learn and grow in community. Mentors grow us most.

But, know-it-all’s outgrow community.

Mentor-ready is ready to:

1. Not-know with an open mind.
2. Believe people, more than circumstances, change us.
3. Have confidence, even though you don’t have all the answers.
4. Shift strategies.
5. Expand options.
6. Nurture curiosity.
7. Stop pretending you know when you don’t.

6 gifts of the mentor. Mentors:

1. Give time for reflection. Without a mentor you keep circling the same thoughts.
2. Explore inconsistencies.
3. Dig into priorities.
4. Press for clarity.
5. Instill confidence.
6. Honor growth.

4 marks of lousy mentors:

1. Fix rather than explore.
2. Advise before understanding desired outcomes.
3. Do all the talking.
4. Act like they know.

7 keys to successful mentoring:

Read the rest here: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/unlock-relationships-that-transform-leadership/

How Do You Help a New Leader When Leadership Doesn’t Come Naturally? by Alec Murray


As many of us know from experience, too often people are promoted because they are good at what they do, but not all high-performing individuals make good managers.

Companies need to know what to do about this situation since they promoted the person and are now responsible for this new manager’s training and leadership growth.

So, just how does a company manage a manager who can’t manage?

1. How do you avoid this problem in the first place?

Many organizations make this mistake in filling management positions. They place people in management roles because they have excelled in a functional role (sales, marketing, finance, operations, manufacturing, product development, etc.).

The transition is treated as a promotion, which encourages people to accept management responsibilities even if they have no interest or experience in managing people.

Everyone loses when this happens — the organization loses a top functional employee to the ranks of management; the newly minted manager is often less happy in the new role than the old; and the new manager’s direct reports suffer from having a poor manager.

2. What do you do if the manager can “do,” but not lead?

Each organization is different, but it starts with “what does leadership look like?” in his or her case. The executive team needs to be very specific about identifying the top 3-5 characteristics that are needed in their role for leadership. Then they need to relate this to specific actions they will need to take.

Another task is to help them see “leadership moments” as they arise in the work. It is a little bit of pointing the way but building a track record of “smaller” leadership actions is a way to transition from “doing.”

At a slightly higher level, there is talking with them about the difference between leading and managing. Without getting lost in semantics, leading is about direction and change and managing is about getting the job done.

The conversation should be conscious and explicit and should provide them about examples of the differences between the two.

3. Who is at fault and what is the solution?

In short, if an organization finds itself with managers who can “do” but cannot manage, it may be because the company hasn’t taken the time to identify people with management potential, train and prepare them for management roles, and mentor them when they first take on management responsibilities.

Read the rest here: http://www.tlnt.com/2014/02/18/how-do-you-help-a-new-leader-when-leadership-doesnt-come-naturally/