Have you ever wished you had a “silver bullet” interview question that could cut through all the rehearsed responses that candidates have today and give you a reliable predictor of success? Well, thanks to more than forty years of research conducted by Professor Walter Mischel, you just might be able to do that. Before I give you the question let me give you the background I came across in a wonderful article written by Jonah Lehrer for The New Yorker.
This is a time when many people traditionally reflect on the past year and try to identify ways in which to make the coming year a better one. They want to look forward to a new year with hope and resolve to become a better person in some way—to lose weight, to stop smoking, to become a more competent professional, a better friend, family member, parent or mate. They make a firm resolution to accomplish this goal and things start off with a bang. That is until about mid-January when, well, the whole idea begins to feel more like a one-night-stand than a commitment.
True or false: A real leader must always appear to be the smartest and the most powerful person in the room.
If this doesn’t sound like a silly question you really need to read today’s column.
“In my opinion, as the leaders of tomorrow, you are not discussing, or being taught about, one of the most important elements in the making of a true leader—personal failure.” I made that comment recently in an address to a global gathering of MBA students here in Prague. Having spent my career studying and evaluating leaders and leaders-to-be I am still amazed at the lack of understanding that exists about the crucial role failure plays in the creation of a seasoned leader.
I have written a lot about women leaders over the years. I have had first-hand experience with women as leaders since childhood—my mother was an executive, so was my wife and, for more than twenty-five years, I have been an advisor to women executives in Asia, America, and Europe. My support of women is widely published and well documented. However, I must admit that when I was asked to write a column for Hospodarske Noviny’s “Top Twenty Five Women in Business”, my first reaction was, oddly enough, one of resistance.
At the heart of every successful enterprise lies one clear driver. It’s not a clever idea, a product, a patent, the perfect location or access to capital—the first four are pretty common and, if they’re good, they lead automatically to the fifth—even in today’s economic climate. What is uncommon, however, is the ability to competently execute all the moving parts these elements demand and that’s where world-class talent comes in.
Being a leader is a complex, demanding and paradoxical undertaking. Having the desire, though, to be a good leader—one who consistently brings out the best in others—that’s even more complex, demanding and paradoxical.
Have you ever been as busy as you have been lately? Chances are, if you are like most of us, you just rolled your eyes and thought, “You must be kidding! I am beyond being busy just trying to keep up with the increased load I have to carry!” So, as a community service, to all the over-worked leaders and leaders-to-be who want to advance their leadership education but haven’t got the time, I offer an entire Ph.D. course in today’s column, which takes less than 5 minutes to read.
Recently, I was invited by the Czech and Slovak chapter of The Young Presidents Organization and Forum 2000 to hear a speech by the well-known and highly regarded international pollster, John Zogby. Zogby’s company, Zogby International is based in New York and conducts polls and surveys in 70 countries around the world. I was particularly interested in hearing Mr. Zogby’s presentation because of his reputation for the quality of his data and the accuracy in his predictions. I was also fascinated by the topic, “The First Globals”.
I was reminded of one of the key abilities of a successful leader recently as I was walking to my favorite ice cream store in Namesti Miru. It was a beautiful sunny spring day—perfect weather for enjoying an ice cream cone. After getting my ice cream, I sat down on a bench in the square. As I sat there watching other people walk by, talking and enjoying their ice cream, I was reminded of one of the most common issues I deal with in coaching very bright, driven people.