“Rohan, do you have a few minutes to pre brief my meeting with the CEO today?”
The text arrived from one of my executive clients, she is super competent, highly intelligent and incredibly good at her job. Yet she still reached out to gain even more clarity for this important meeting. Sometimes leaders don’t need information, sometimes we just need clarification.
Having a clear and strong sense of self prior to any important meeting is critical to its success. Self Leadership is the first and most important kind of leadership. However, it’s only the start. Once you have a clear sense of self you need to make certain the leadership flows through you not just to you. (Attribution to @mattchurch for this piece of gold).
Getting clarity fast matters because of the following four reasons:
- Leaders are required to make quality decisions regularly and consistently.
- Leaders live in a world of complexity and change and rarely have all the information required.
- Clarity (knowing WHAT) to do is more important than certainty (knowing HOW).
- Consistently good decisions help build your credibility and platform as a leader. Clarity serves that.
We set up a time to speak, and in eight minutes were able to cover the following pattern that served to give her clarity fast.
It went like this:
We started by asking the big picture question “What is this really about and what do you really want as an outcome?” This helped with being honest about the attitude and expectations she was taking into the meeting and to quickly identify if they were going to help the experience. It’s like saying something you think you believe and in saying it you realise you don’t actually believe it. It’s a sanity check.
We then asked this question from Andy Stanley “What do you want FOR them and what do you want FROM them?” This allows for a wholistic approach to the conversation. Often times we focus on the altruistic edges of leadership when in truth our real worlds are much more about doing things for one another that serve outcomes. We want to serve AND we need something productive from the exchange. It’s a both/and experience.
We then moved on to how do we move forward on the most important matters to discuss and asked the following questions?
What is your most important strategic focus right now? This enabled my client lead up and create space for her CEO to share what really matters to them.
We then moved to a more action orientated question “What are the most courageous and effective leadership decisions we need to make together?” This provided the space to ‘make the call’ on what needed to be done and with what level of importance and urgency. It also built on the previous question to add more colour and depth to the strategy question.
That last piece we focused on was what to do next. We asked “What are our specific next steps?” This allows for the opportunity to move to the implantation side of the conversation. It also demonstrated to the CEO that she was focused and committed to getting it done.
The last question we posed was, “Where could this go off track and what should we do about it?” This provided that opportunity to pressure test the decisions and consider the implications together.
Clarity didn’t just serve my client, it served her CEO and it served the organisation. We got clarity fast.
As leaders we know we need it.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.