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Finding Your Inconvenient Truth

by | May 16, 2017

 Have you watched Mad Men?  If so, you know Don Draper surrounded himself with people who saw things differently then he asked insightful questions and listened intently to their responses.  An article in Harvard Business Review shares that leaders follow Draper’s example.

For the article, Hal Gregersen interviewed over 200 CEOs.  His basic thesis is “(innovative) CEOs actively seek out situations where they may be unexpectedly wrong, unusually uncomfortable, and uncharacteristically quiet.”

So, how do we do this?  Gregersen has a three step recipe:

  • Frame questions
  • Admit mistakes
  • Get uncomfortable

At Intertech, from stay interviews to an annual employee town hall meeting, we encourage input and create opportunities for team members to speak their minds.

Once you learn an “inconvenient truth”, leave the ego at the door and as Walt Bettinger, the Charles Schwab CEO, stated: “The difference (between successful and unsuccessful leaders) is the successful executive is faster to recognize the bad decisions and adjust, whereas failing executives often dig in and try to convince people that they were right.”

So, how do you do you get uncomfortable and get new insights?  Here are a few of the ideas from Gregersen:

  • How many barriers do people have to cross to talk directly with you?
  • How quickly did you uncover your last mistake? How fast did you change course?
  • How many questions do you ask versus statements do you make in typical conversations?

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