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Don’t Ask These Damaging Types of Questions

There are questions that breathe life into the people on your team and your conversations. These questions bring out the best in them and have the potential to make the conversation interesting and even deeply meaningful. These are the kinds of conversations that lead to innovative solutions and to the growth of that team member.

Then there are questions that suck the meaningfulness right out of the air. They leave the other person feeling flat and listless. I wrote to you last week about the fact that asking powerful questions will undoubtedly lift your leadership to another level. And I have experienced that personally and professionally. But there are land mines out there of which you need to be aware. There are traps that you can easily step into that can actually cause damage in your relationships.


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The problem is that the ineffective questions come so naturally. We have all learned a series of bad habits. So, here are the questions to avoid…

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A Guaranteed Lift To Your Leadership

W hen I started my own business eight years ago, I left a team that was reluctant to let me go. Their loyalty to me was sincere. But even though I had a genuine care for the individuals that I managed, there were also tools that enabled me to demonstrate that to my team.



Two weeks ago I stated that the strength of your relationships will determine the amount of leadership capacity you possess. Last week I wrote about the importance of your ordinary daily conversations and how they have the power to strengthen the relationships you have within your team.

While I emphasized the importance of listening, that’s only half of the formula for great conversations. Certainly intentional, skilled listening is critical to healthy relationships, but there is a partner skill that, if you master it, will lift your leadership to new levels. Guaranteed.

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Why Daily Conversations Make All the Difference in Your Leadership

The search for something extraordinary is very enticing. People follow the latest fads and trends hoping for a dramatic breakthrough. We all know there is no such thing as a “get rich quick” scheme, but many secretly hope there is and are constantly scanning the environment for it.


Photo Courtesy of Danielle Trista Photography


It is easy to get distracted. Whether the ideas come from a great book everyone is reading, from a high energy conference you just attended, or an especially inspiring leadership forum in which you participated, we are always coming across potential “silver bullets.”

However, great leaders have discovered that sustainable success in their business is usually not the result of extraordinary bursts of performance, but rather the ability to do the simple things well on a consistent basis. The same is true for successful leadership.

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A “Must Have” for Great Leadership

A number of years ago our family took a vacation on the East Coast. We laughed, cried, and learned while facing and overcoming challenges together. All that, while enjoying a considerable amount of exciting U.S. history.


Teams Face Challenges

One of the challenges we faced was packing up our seriously overloaded van to move from our Williamsburg campsite to a campsite near Washington D.C. I was more intent on van packing rather than people leading. A fun time was not had by all (Mama ain’t happy, daddy ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy). You get the picture. Maybe you can even say, “been there, done that.”

But when I stepped back and decided to involve the packers in the process, paying attention to and affirming the contributions of those involved and actively helping foster healthy attitudes, the relational landscape changed immediately.

As I reflect upon that experience, one thing very clear to me is that the strength of my relationships with my team (or family) members is the key to my effectiveness as a leader. Otherwise I create an effective mess. When I concentrate first and foremost on relationships, things flow more smoothly and the desired outcome is achieved in a much better, and more enjoyable, fashion.


Images Created By Charles Willson Peale


An incredible example of this occurred in 1803. Lewis and Clark headed out with the more than twenty men who made up The Corps of Discovery to explore the Missouri River basin by crossing over the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. These men signed up knowing that death was a definite possibility, and difficulty was guaranteed.

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How To Successfully Turn Raw Talent Into Functional Strength

Talent. It has become an extremely hot topic in business. Talent acquisition and retention are high on every leader’s agenda. We are all striving to find the best in an obviously shrinking pool.


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But, if we stop with the idea of finding and keeping talented people we will fall short of what is ultimately needed. I once read in a leadership blog that research by K. Anders Ericsson and colleagues concludes that it is deliberate practice that produces great performers, not simply raw talent.

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. We Chicago Bulls fans have no doubt. Years ago I regularly heard sports talk-show hosts and basketball analysts discussing who would be the next Michael Jordan. Would it be Kobe or LeBron? As a leader, the real question for me was, “What made Jordan so great?”

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