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The Three Questions a Leader Must Answer

Leadership is a complex art. The list of skills and attributes an effective leader must possess is innumerable. There are some things a leader must do, including answering these three questions.

Where Are We Going

A leader has to provide a vision. Part of that vision has to include an idea about where the organization is now and where she is leading it.

If you aren’t going anywhere, you really don’t need a leader. If you are going from where you are to someplace better, you want a leader with an idea as to where that better place is and how you can get there.

The best leaders relentlessly reiterate their vision for the future state to which they are guiding their organization.

Why Are We Going There

Great leaders don’t make change for the sake of making change. They’ve done the work to know exactly why they have chosen the future they’re moving towards and what it means to the organization.

If you are leaving the warm comfort of the status quo, you need to know why you are doing so. What do you risk by staying where you are and doing what you are doing? What do you gain by capturing the new future that you can’t already gain by staying put?

The best leaders tell stories that answer the question, “Why?”

Who Will We Become

When you change, you become someone different, something different. But what is it that we are becoming? Effective leaders explain how the organization–and the individuals that make up that organization–will be changed.

When leaders ask the organization to change, they are asking the individuals to change. The leader is asking for the individuals to adopt a new set of beliefs, a new set of behaviors, and a new set of skills.

The leader answers the question, “Who will I become by changing?”

If you are a leader, you need to answer these questions as often as you can. In every speech, email, or individual conversation, you have to make the answers to these questions known, until you reach your goals and set on a new path.


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