What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential

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Overview


Successful leaders know that leadership is less often about having all the answers—and more often about asking the right questions. The challenge lies in being able to step back, reflect, and ask the key questions that are critical to your performance and your organization’s effectiveness.

In What to Ask the Person in the Mirror, HBS professor and business leader Robert Kaplan presents a process for asking the big questions that will enable you to diagnose problems, change ...

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What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential

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Overview


Successful leaders know that leadership is less often about having all the answers—and more often about asking the right questions. The challenge lies in being able to step back, reflect, and ask the key questions that are critical to your performance and your organization’s effectiveness.

In What to Ask the Person in the Mirror, HBS professor and business leader Robert Kaplan presents a process for asking the big questions that will enable you to diagnose problems, change course if necessary, and advance your career. He lays out areas of inquiry, including questions such as:

•Do I clearly articulate my vision and top priorities to my employees and key constituencies?
•Does the way I spend my time enable me to achieve my top priorities?
•Do I give subordinates timely and direct feedback they can act on? Do I actively seek feedback myself?
•Have I developed a succession roadmap?
•Is my organization’s design aligned with the achievement of its objectives?
•Is my leadership style still effective, and does it reflect who I truly am?

Packed with real-life situations, this highly readable and practical guide helps you learn to ask the right questions—and work through the answers in ways that are right for you. By asking these questions, you can tackle the inevitable challenges of leadership as you craft new strategies for staying on top of your game.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The areas appear as chapters with a concluding section that underlines his findings, making the book easy to follow.” — Director magazine

“Leaders don’t have all the answers … When you’re unsure what to do next, it’s time to answer the questions that Kaplan poses in his seven steps.” – Dallas Morning News

“Kaplan's business philosophy, applicable to everyone from CEOs to new college graduates, begins with a willingness to ask questions.” – Chicago Tribune

“the key strength of the book is its practical approach. – People Management

“In his timeless book, What to Ask the Person in the Mirror, Kaplan offers seven basic types of inquiry or areas of focus—actually a system of inquiry that ties the leadership function together—that you should be looking at on a regular basis.” - LeadershipNow

“Kaplan is part of a refreshing vanguard of management scholars who no longer view the CEO as a superhero, the corner office Zeus who creates value by force of will and top-down edict. Rather, the modern executive is reflective, empathetic, full of self-awareness, someone who leads by example and by motivation, not by power and fear.” – BNET

“…Kaplan argues against the notion that great leadership is about having all the answers. He believes that leadership skills can be learned—and that many of these skills require executives to rethink their conception of what a superb leader actually does. Developing and practicing these skills requires hard work and may demand that talented executives overcome some degree of discomfort and even anxiety in order to raise their game.” – HBS Working Knowledge

“Throughout the cabinet file of information stacked into these pages, challenging questions are asked that will make you ponder the success rate of leadership strategies you employ.” – Kennedy Book Reviews

“Grab a copy of this easy-to-read yet deeply insightful book.” – 800 CEO READ

“Reading Rob Kaplan’s brilliant new book is like being coached by a great mentor. Written clearly and lucidly, with dozens of real-world examples, Kaplan’s savvy and practical advice results from hundreds of outstanding leaders he has mentored successfully. Don’t just read it—incorporate his ideas into your leadership.” — Bill George
Author, True North; professor of management practice, Harvard Business School

“Rob Kaplan is an outstanding leader and business executive. In What to Ask the Person in the Mirror, he provides a valuable and adaptable framework that can be used by business and nonprofit leaders. This book lays out the important questions that leaders should ask in order to achieve their goals and reach their potential.” — Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
Seventy-fourth Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury; Chairman and CEO , Goldman Sachs (1999–2006)

“Kaplan succeeds in translating his vast knowledge of the leadership field into clear, graceful language, almost as if he is having a conversation with the reader. He tells engaging stories to illustrate his general points—the most effective way to give abstract concepts life. This book should have a wide readership.” — Doris Kearns Goodwin
Pulitzer Prize–winning presidential historian and author, Team of Rivals

Library Journal
In this guide to developing and honing leadership skills, Kaplan (management practice, Harvard Business School; cochairman, Draper Richards Kaplan Fdn.; former vice chairman, Goldman Sachs) explains, "the critical premise of this book is that by knowing how and when to ask critical questions, a young professional as well as a senior leader can take greater ownership of his or her organization and career." He focuses on seven basic areas for inquiry and self-evaluation: "Vision and Priorities," "Managing Your Time," "Giving and Getting Feedback," "Succession Planning and Delegation," "Evaluation and Alignment," "The Leader as Role Model," and "Reaching Your Potential." In a final chapter, he discusses ways to make inquiry and self-evaluation a regular part of leadership activities. In the chapter on time management, appropriate questions to ask include, "Do I know how I spend my time?" and "Does it match my key priorities?" Kaplan follows these questions by analyzing the importance of effective time-management strategies and the establishment of priorities. Each chapter includes case studies and a list of suggested follow-up steps. VERDICT This is a practical book for students and others who wish to develop their leadership skills. Highly recommended.—Lucy Heckman, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781422170014
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 7/19/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 320,748
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Robert Steven Kaplan is a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and former vice chairman of The Goldman Sachs Group. He is also co-chairman of Draper, Richards and Kaplan, a global venture philanthropy firm. He advises numerous companies around the world.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Great Leadership Is Not About Having Alt the Answers

1 Vision and Priorities 11

If You Know Where You're Going, It's a Lot Easier to Get There

2 Managing Your Time 47

How You Spend Your Time Should Flow Directly from Your Vision and Key Priorities

3 Giving and Getting Feedback 73

Effective Leaders Coach Their People end Actively Seek Coaching Themselves

4 Succession Planning and Delegation 105

Owning the Challenge of Developing Successors in Your Organization

5 Evaluation and Alignment 133

The Courage to Assess Your Enterprise with a Clean Sheet of Paper

6 The Leader as Role Model 161

Communicating Whet You Truly Believe and Value

7 Reaching Your Potential 189

Being True to Yourself

8 Bringing It All Together 223

The Practice of Gaining Perspective

Appendix: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential 233

Notes and Additional References 245

Acknowledgments 249

Index 253

About the Author 263

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