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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Improving Organizational Vision

Over the next week I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Ask the Right Questions by Barry Cohen (McGraw Hill, September 2009). This is the SECOND of several posts on Just Ask Leadership.

Improve Vision: Gaining insights from all levels of the organization.

a. Improving vision for an organization always starts with looking out at the ideal state: All things equal, in a year or two, where do you as a leader want to be? The author wants you to climb up on the mast of your ship and look out at the opportunities and threats. He also asks a lot of questions and gives some good answers based on his experience as a both a successful business man and executive coach who’s seen his own share of success and failure. So here are one or two questions he poses in each major section of the book with a taste of his observations:What are my values? AND Are my values alignment with the four core human values?

i. OK, so I combined a couple of questions here! But discovering those core values we hold dear is important. You have to start with an inventory of what are the values you (and your leadership team) hold closest. The author talks about the importance of inventorying your own set of values. He also asks about alignment and then quotes a study by Harvard Professors, Lawrence and Hohria in their article In Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices. The authors identify four core human drives: To acquire (food, status, power); to bond (for reproduction, social interaction, and protection); to learn (to accumulate and transmit knowledge to others); and to defend and protect ourselves (by flight, fight, or freeze). If your core values don’t connect with any one of these, it’s likely you’re out of balance.

ii. Other questions asked in this chapter include (along with neat stories, research and anecdotes) : Are our values as strong as our profits? Is there a gap between our stated values and our operating values? What is our organization’s culture? Are my coworkers aware of the importance of their work? There are a total of 18 key questions the author asks of leaders. Worth checking them out and his response to those questions.

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