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July 5, 2011

News & Opinion: What to Ask the Person in the Mirror

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 6:44 PM – Filed under: Leadership & Strategy

Potential. It's a big word. Especially for leaders. One whose meaning we all know we have, yet are speculative about what it really represents for us. We know we can be better at what we do, but what exactly does that mean? Aren't some people already so far ahead of us, anyway? Maybe they were even born with more potential?



Robert Steven Kaplan, Harvard professor, business advisor and executive put his thoughts on paper to show us how to become better leaders, and that it is a skill that can be learned. His book is titled: What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential. As the title implies, it's a guide for looking at yourself, assessing your skills and how you've used them, how they can change and improve.

From vision, time management and feedback, to succession plans and alignment, the full scope of leadership issues are addressed in detail from Kaplan's own experience and research. He states:

"I have found that almost without exception, successful leaders go through significant periods of time in which they feel confused, discouraged, and unsure of themselves and their decisions. They feel as if they should be somewhere else, doing something else. They wonder why other executives seem to have an easier time doing their jobs. They go through wrenching phases in which they grasp for answers and feel fundamentally alone. Even as they project an air of confidence, they harbor deep feelings of uncertainty and apprehension.

So, if you're reading this and can identify, you're not alone. Grab a copy of this easy-to-read yet deeply insightful book about riding out your wrenching phase and coming out of it a better leader.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.