Leadership is not about ‘knowing all the answers', it is about asking the right questions and listening to the answers
As I spent most of the past week preparing performance reviews, it struck me that this is the very thing I was taking a break from doing, 5 years ago when I decided to start up this blog and write my first post, It’s So Hard.
Let’s talk about hard. It’s all relative. It’s not the mechanics of reviews that are hard; it’s the leadership reflection that can come with it. Writing a review is much more than crafting words for a page. At times <for me> it is nothing less than a review of my leadership.
What does that look like?
Not really. Nor is it a crazy-haired psycho reliving each and every exchange or complete calm sitting cross-legged on a pillow with incense in the background.
It is more often me, with a cup of coffee and something Panera, asking a bunch of questions, questions I would ask myself, regardless of whether or not performance reviews live or die:
• Did I set clear expectations or did I expect others to read my mind?
• Did I address performance issues at the right time or did I get to them much too late? Was my response appropriate or did it bear the weight of a compilation of small indiscretions that no one was holding on to but me?
• What issues did I avoid? Why? Did I mistake warning signs for nothing more than the drama of the moment?
• Was I too focused on issues external to the department, expecting the department to run on autopilot and surprised when it ran aground ? Do I have enough checks, balances and internal controls to protect all of us?
• Did I recognize achievement during the year? Did I provide the resources, guidance and room for others to excel? Did I hold others accountable for their own performance?
There are always things each year that, if given the chance, I would do very differently. Sometimes I suck, sometimes not. Honestly, you would think I would have it down to a science by now. But I don’t.
But that’s the thing.
Leadership is not a science. It is not a laundry list of leadership courses, a degree from a prestigious college, the right car or anything wrapped in an ego. No hubris allowed.
Leadership is not about ‘knowing all the answers’, it is about asking the right questions and listening to the answers. Hint: that means not defending or denying what you are hearing and, above all, not attacking the messenger.
What questions would you add to the list?
Lisa Rosendahl, SPHR is an astute HR leader with more than 18 years of professional HR experience. A former Army officer, Lisa has provided leadership and expertise to full-cycle strategic HR operations in manufacturing and now, in federal healthcare.