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Thursday
Sep112014

Four Questions Guaranteed To Change Everything

I have mentioned Lorne Sanny before in one or more posts.  Lorne was the president of The Navigators for 30 years, succeeding the founder Dawson Trotman.  Lorne called himself the “reluctant leader,” as he saw himself as one unqualified to lead an organization like The Navigators.

Humility (in my opinion) was one of the qualities that contributed to his solid leadership over all those years.

A part of what I am as a leader today is due to his influence on my life through his leadership and teaching during the 37 years I was on Navigator staff.

At one point during his 30 years, he passed around laminated cards on which was some of his leadership wisdom. When you were handed this card, you saw four questions that Lorne said every follower should be able to ask his/her leader. 

I am convinced that allowing those on your team/your organization to ask these four questions will dramatically change everything.

Ready? Here they are:

1. Will you tell me what you expect?

People thrive and do excellent work when it is clear what is expected of them. Job descriptions, clearly communicated expectations and what kind of authority they have to made decisions, spend money and bring on team members significantly helps. For the most part, people don’t function well in an atmosphere of ambiguity, uncertainty and confusion as to what exactly they are supposed to be focused on, or knowing what a win looks like.

2.  Will you let me do it?

People do better when they have freedom as to how they go about achieving agreed-upon goals.  There is a big difference in holding people accountable for results as opposed to micro-managing them on how they are to achieve those results. See the Post “Are you micromanaging or simply holding people accountable?” Set people free to use their God-given gifts, ingenuity and imagination and watch what happens. Don’t create a culture of fear where people are constantly looking over their shoulders waiting for the other shoe to dro

3.  Will you help me if I need it?

When I have a question, am facing an issue, am not sure what to do, are you available as my leader?  Can I come to you without feeling I am pestering you or interrupting your day. Am I important enough to you and have enough value to the organization that you would welcome and encourage me to come to you without fear or being accused of being incompetent? Please don’t throw me into the deep end of the pool and be left to sink or swim.

4.  Will you tell me how I’m doing?

 I need to hear from you regularly as to how I am doing in my job in reaching my goals and meeting the organization’s expectations. A once-a-year  “Progress Review” is insufficient and unsatisfactory for me. If I’m doing well, would you please tell me and if I am not, would you also inform me? I would function much better if I was consistently communicated with as to how I’m doing. On this subject, see the Book Note, “Get Rid of the Performance Review.”

Since I was first handed one of Lorne’s laminated cards and began to apply these four paradigm-shifting questions in my leadership role, my effectiveness took a quantum leap forward. May these simple, but impactful, questions do the same for you.

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