The Leadership Questions (For those who have at least one person reporting to you at work)

By Chris Crosby

Do you own all that happens in your work area?
• Do you even own problems caused in part by supporting resources working in your area but whom you have no legitimate authority over? (I.e. you are not their boss and do not do their performance review)
• If a supporting resource is not servicing your group as well as they should do you blame them instead of working with them until you get the results you need?
• If inputs that your group needs (materials, information, money, or people) are not being delivered on time or with quality do you blame the people responsible or work with them until you get what you need?
• Can you catch your blame and turn it into constructive problem solving aimed at getting results?

How is your ability to self-differentiate as a leader?
• How would you rate your ability to take a clear stand and stay connected?
• Is your focus mainly on connection?
• Is your focus mainly on taking stands?

Are you so used to the problems that you just live with them? Has your advocacy backbone died?
• Do you have a problem solving frame that begins with analysis to get to the facts of the issue or do you just throw solutions after things without real analysis?

How is your work place emotional intelligence?
• Are you aware of the connection between thoughts and feelings?
• Are you aware of the process of venting and how to tune into the people that are doing it versus reacting against or avoiding them? Or when people vent do you create a never ending cycle of venting about their vent and cause greater rifts and problems?
• Do you know the difference between a judgment of someone, such as any adjective used to describe people, and a behavioral description which is an attempt to get at the facts of what a person did, and the actual words used by that person? (Words are observable behavior. However, memory cannot be 100% trusted so when one shares the words they thought they heard they must understand that they most likely are a little off.)
• Are you aware of the dynamics of triangles in the workplace and do you know how to help people deal effectively with each other versus stay stuck in dysfunctional triangles?

Can you engage? Or are you disconnected as a leader?
• When you are in front of your group at a meeting is it clear you are the leader or do you look like another member perhaps even more passive than most in the group?
• Do you stop conversations as soon as obvious solutions are surfaced or that are about things already decided and redirect the group towards working through the next issues?
• Do you confront behavior that is counterproductive to effective workplaces like not paying attention or texting during meetings instead of listening and participating?
• When employees raise issues, can you engage with them by getting to the specifics or do you avoid the topic or complain as if you are an employee also rather than their leader?
• Do you confront people who are working outside of expectations and help them gain clarity of actually behaviors needed while occasionally using appropriate reprimands for those who truly are actually being deliberately insubordinate?
• Do you catch people doing things right and let them know by giving them positive reinforcement that is specific. Do you do this way more than sharing negative criticism (at least 3 to 1)?

Where is your tendency to focus as a leader, on the forest or in the trees? The forest represents overall functioning of the group as well as strategy. The trees represent tasks without taking a look at the group as a whole.
• Are you stuck in one way or the other or are you flexible? If you are in the trees can you focus sufficiently on the forest and create strategies that impact positively the overall functioning of the group? If you look only at the forest can you focus sufficiently on the trees and hold people accountable for individual task?
• No matter where your tendency is can you engage your employees when they bring issues? Or do you either try various means to get them to stop talking, not say anything yourself, or act as if you are one of them by joining in the complaining while not leading them beyond the issue to a solution?

When you start new initiatives do you stick to them and follow through until they are working well?
• Or are you in the never ending cycle of starting things without really following through good enough for success?

Do you listen to the people who are actually doing the work, such as floor personnel, and make sure they have all the necessary inputs and resources to do their job?
• Or do you try getting them to stop complaining and get to work?

Do you keep your focus on business results achieved and keep working on items in the way of success?
• Or do you focus mainly on keeping the peace and helping each other get along?

Do you see dissenters as trouble makers?
• Or do you attempt to understand each complaint to its actual facts then put in place solutions to solve the issues as deemed necessary?

How is your balance between backbone (the ability to show up be decisive, confront appropriately, make decisions, and hold people accountable), heart (the ability to tune in, express empathy, listen deeply in tense moments, and convey that you care), head (the ability to provide vision, to think through difficult problems, to help people understand role and expectations, and connect to the current situation), and guts (The ability to trust your instincts, and to show up in difficult moments)?
• Where are you stuck and deficient in these dimensions?

About crosbyod

Crosby & Associates OD is a catalyst for high performance & morale. Our methods are a unique blend grounded in research and decades of experience. In the spirit of Kurt Lewin, the founder of OD, as we partner with you in the present we transfer our methods to you so you are independent in the future. Learn more at
This entry was posted in Leadership and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s