Thursday, January 19, 2012

What To Ask The Person In The Mirror: Critical Questions For Becoming A More Effective Leader And Reaching Your Potential By Robert Steven Kaplan

What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential

What To Ask The Person In The Mirror: Critical Questions For Becoming A More Effective Leader And Reaching Your Potential By Robert Steven Kaplan

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Product Description

Successful leaders know that leadership is less often about having all the answers—and more often about asking the right questions. The challenge lies in being able to step back, reflect, and ask the key questions that are critical to your performance and your organization's effectiveness.

In What to Ask the Person in the Mirror, HBS professor and business leader Robert Kaplan presents a process for asking the big questions that will enable you to diagnose problems, change course if necessary, and advance your career. He lays out areas of inquiry, including questions such as:

•Do I clearly articulate my vision and top priorities to my employees and key constituencies?
•Does the way I spend my time enable me to achieve my top priorities?
•Do I give subordinates timely and direct feedback they can act on? Do I actively seek feedback myself?
•Have I developed a succession roadmap?
•Is my organization's design aligned with the achievement of its objectives?
•Is my leadership style still effective, and does it reflect who I truly am?

Packed with real-life situations, this highly readable and practical guide helps you learn to ask the right questions—and work through the answers in ways that are right for you. By asking these questions, you can tackle the inevitable challenges of leadership as you craft new strategies for staying on top of your game.
Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #24892 in Books
  • Published on: 2011-07-19
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .97" h x 5.85" w x 8.56" l, .90 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 288 pages
Editorial Reviews


"Leaders don't have all the answers … When you're unsure what to do next, it's time to answer the questions that Kaplan poses in his seven steps." – Dallas Morning News

"Kaplan's business philosophy, applicable to everyone from CEOs to new college graduates, begins with a willingness to ask questions." – Chicago Tribune

"the key strength of the book is its practical approach. – People Management

"In his timeless book, What to Ask the Person in the Mirror, Kaplan offers seven basic types of inquiry or areas of focus—actually a system of inquiry that ties the leadership function together—that you should be looking at on a regular basis." - LeadershipNow

"Kaplan is part of a refreshing vanguard of management scholars who no longer view the CEO as a superhero, the corner office Zeus who creates value by force of will and top-down edict. Rather, the modern executive is reflective, empathetic, full of self-awareness, someone who leads by example and by motivation, not by power and fear." – BNET

"…Kaplan argues against the notion that great leadership is about having all the answers. He believes that leadership skills can be learned—and that many of these skills require executives to rethink their conception of what a superb leader actually does. Developing and practicing these skills requires hard work and may demand that talented executives overcome some degree of discomfort and even anxiety in order to raise their game." – HBS Working Knowledge

"Throughout the cabinet file of information stacked into these pages, challenging questions are asked that will make you ponder the success rate of leadership strategies you employ." – Kennedy Book Reviews

"Grab a copy of this easy-to-read yet deeply insightful book." – 800 CEO READ

"Reading Rob Kaplan's brilliant new book is like being coached by a great mentor. Written clearly and lucidly, with dozens of real-world examples, Kaplan's savvy and practical advice results from hundreds of outstanding leaders he has mentored successfully. Don't just read it—incorporate his ideas into your leadership." — Bill George
Author, True North; professor of management practice, Harvard Business School

"Rob Kaplan is an outstanding leader and business executive. In What to Ask the Person in the Mirror, he provides a valuable and adaptable framework that can be used by business and nonprofit leaders. This book lays out the important questions that leaders should ask in order to achieve their goals and reach their potential." — Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
Seventy-fourth Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury; Chairman and CEO , Goldman Sachs (1999–2006)

"Kaplan succeeds in translating his vast knowledge of the leadership field into clear, graceful language, almost as if he is having a conversation with the reader. He tells engaging stories to illustrate his general points—the most effective way to give abstract concepts life. This book should have a wide readership." — Doris Kearns Goodwin
Pulitzer Prize–winning presidential historian and author, Team of Rivals

About the Author

Robert Steven Kaplan is a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and former vice chairman of The Goldman Sachs Group. He is also co-chairman of Draper, Richards and Kaplan, a global venture philanthropy firm. He advises numerous companies around the world.
Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful.
5made a huge difference already
By Sara
I had been looking for a book that would offer actionable advice and suggestions on how to better manage my time and set priorities for me and my team. Starting with a "clean sheet of paper" has been one of the
most valuable exercises in the book. I have read books about leadership before, but they always seemed very academic and so abstract that they weren't actually relevant in the real world- or to me and my work in particular- but this book is different. It's obvious from the start that Kaplan is someone who has been there and understands what its like to actually run an organization. I could have used this book when I was just starting out!

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
5This book will be a leadership classic because it is so profoundly insightful, yet crystal clear and practical.
By Carolyn Langelier
As I read this book, I found myself nodding in agreement, occasionally thinking, "that's obvious," and then - wow! - the far less obvious becomes apparent as the author shows, with clarity and no jargon, how the various elements of his advice fit together to profoundly empower us as leaders. Quite often, the truth of what Kaplan says made me wince, but in the same way as honest advice from a close friend is sometimes painful, but it is the advice which helps us grow, overcome our shortcomings, and become more powerful. Whether you are a CEO or a more junior leader, the advice here helps you think about issues, and how to confront those issues to great advantage. My guess is that this will become a classic because the author's thinking is so profound and based on such fundamental truths. The Sam Waltons and Tom Watsons and Steve Jobses of business, i.e., the most successful business leaders of all time, instinctively do what Kaplan lays out - - but what a huge help it is to have Kaplan there to articulate it all so incredibly clearly.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
5Great Book On Leadership With A Real Personal Touch
By Dr. Rick
"What To Ask the Person in the Mirror" is an excellent read that flows with a blend of practical suggestions and real world examples. Kaplan does not get caught up in the lingo of big business and this makes the messages of the book applicable to those in small business or any size organization. Furthermore, it is not presented in a dogmatic way that would imply there is only one way to succeed. It is fitting that the cover of the book is in black, white, and gray. The author cogently and cohesively puts in black and white some of the very ideas that have possibly popped into our minds. But, Kaplan points out that there are gray zones and not everything involving leadership is in black and white. He goes a step further and weaves the ideas into actions that can benefit an individual, those surrounding him or her and the entire organization.

What the author reminds us is that leadership can be analogous to the long-running game show "Jeopardy." The answer must be given in the form of a question. Just as this happens consistently in the "Jeopardy," "Double Jeopardy," and "Final Jeopardy" parts of the show, the same can be said, according to Kaplan, as one travels to different levels of leadership.

He also notes that whatever we do ask the person in the mirror will reflect back not only to us, but to those who are close to us occupationally and socially. Similarly, those we work with and befriend also are reflections of us in their own way. Just as we so often see with top professional athletes, Kaplan points out that leaders in business and organizations of all sizes are indeed role models to someone. Accountability and looking at the greater good are sorely lacking commodities in this world of ours-- whether we are talking about individuals or groups. As the author states, there are those who can blame others or take on the role of "cynic-in-chief," but they do so at their own risk and that of their organization.

Although Kaplan has spent his adult life within the confines of renowned institutions of Wall Street and academia, one takes away an appreciation for his Midwestern sensibilities derived from his upbringing. You can almost picture fellow Midwesterners Harry Truman and Will Rogers nodding in agreement with this plain-talking, common sense, homespun approach to leadership which is so lacking in today's society. As someone who has spent his life's work helping people who have good intentions and are lacking in the follow-through and whose stress has led to distress and emotional difficulties, I can recognize how we are all works in progress--but, we can all make progress. Kaplan effectively and so eloquently points out that in leadership there is the capability of becoming a better leader without having to give up the ship.

One particularly nice feature of this book is the fact that one comes away from reading it sensing that each of us already has demonstrated positive qualities of leadership. We can see where there are always going to be areas of needed improvement, but the author does not chastise us or present a picture of gloom and doom. Instead, Kaplan offers a sort of treatment plan that can evaluate, diagnose, and treat a static or declining condition to make it improve by being more dynamic and vibrant, something painfully lacking in many of our leaders today.

Reading "What To Ask the Person in the Mirror" encourages us to ask not just what colleagues and organizations can do for us, but what we can do for them. It's well worth the read and you might just be able to put some of those challenges in the rear view mirror.

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