Unlike most calls I get these days from executives, this guy’s team was not struggling; as a matter of fact, his division had led the company in production and profits for many years. Everything was still on track even in this current world of uncertainty. When I asked him how he had accomplished this, without the slightest hesitation or posturing, he gave a little credit to “the luck of the draw” on his part, but the lion’s share of the success he attributed to the great work of the people on his team.
I asked him what was on his mind. In a few bullet points, he had clarified his vision for the future of the team and the organization – no questions about it. But the next words out of his mouth made it clear that he was also very much at home with the need for asking important questions. “Over the last few months,” he said, “I have been asking myself, what is it about me that is keeping this team from moving to the next level?”
While many executives these days are looking outside themselves asking what is wrong with the organization or their team from a place of pride, this guy was looking inside for a better answer grounded in humility.
What is it about me? This may be the best question of all questions. Put forward, in different words from different angles, by philosophers, poets, and prophets, found in prayers, speeches, and books since civilization began, it is perhaps the one crucial question necessary for growth and advancement of an organization and society.
In many ancient tribal cultures, the warriors (the leaders of the tribe) are said to have strived to walk as if every step were a prayer. I have yet to learn what those prayers might have actually been or if this only figuratively represented a posture of humility and gratitude. But I believe if there were such a prayer, “a walking prayer,” and that there was a warrior who did indeed pray this prayer on his road to leadership, it might have gone something like the following—a modern reworking of the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it is me.
Journal Entry: What is your first question and what is your prayer when things get way off track in your leadership in life?
3 Questions Good Leaders Ask Themselves:
- “When people walk away from me, is their potential activated or constrained?”
- “Who will replace me, and is he or she ready?”
- “Do I spend enough time with my team?”
These questions were adapted from an article in The Muse by Jo Miller. Read more from Jo at www.beleaderly.com.
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” – Corrie ten Boom
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” The Bible, 2 Chronicles 7:14