Questions Every Leader Should be Asking…All the Time!

Reflections on Jo Saxton’s talk at the GLS 2019

Have you ever been sitting in some presentation, it is the third or fourth for the day so you are a little distracted, and at the same time hopeful?  And then the speaker starts talking and every distraction passes away and you are snapped in?  That’s what happened for me when Jo Saxton took the floor at The Global Leadership Summit.  Why?  Because she wanted to talk about healthy leaders and since I’ve been an unhealthy leader, I was right there with her.  What she had to say was not what I thought she was going to talk about.  Read on and I’ll share my take-aways, take-aways I think every leader needs to have.

Ms. Saxton talked about the role of probing questions in maintaining psychological and emotional health as a leader.  Right?  Not what you expected either in a talk on healthy leaders.  Here are the questions she said all leaders need to be asking themselves on a regular basis…and in the company of other leaders so they cannot lie to themselves.  Caught me in that one!  It’s easy to lie to yourself when there’s no one watching you.

  1. Who are you before someone told you who you were supposed to be?  Is that image still shaping you?  Why or why not?  Is that image one that feeds into imposter syndrome?  You know what imposter syndrome is, right?  It’s that notion that you are not qualified or equipped to be doing what you are doing and so you hustle, hustle, hustle to cover that up and you worry incessantly about being “found out.”  Oh, and the other element of imposter syndrome:  it’s not true.  You are always getting qualified and better equipped to do what you are doing.  But you behave as if it is true!  The final related comment in this section of her talk was this:  what you are thinking is what you are becoming.  If there were ever a call to check those negative tapes playing in your head, this is it!
  2. If your body could talk to you, what would it want to say?  She said this question is important because your leadership lives in your body.  The body’s messages become part of the leader’s messages.  Does your body want to tell you to rest?  To exercise it?  To stand up more or to change how you fuel it?  Does your body want to tell you to de-stress, to have more fun, to see a doctor?  You get the idea.  What would your body want to say to you, right here and now?
  3. Who are your people?  YOUR people, she emphasized.  The people who are your friends, your mentors, your lodestars (that’s the star that’s used to guide a ship)?  She said it takes a village to raise and sustain effective leaders.  Who’s in your village?  Have you become increasingly isolated?  Not making time for those relationships?  Not being part of someone else’s leadership village?  Her final point here:  be willing and intentional about recruiting people to be in your “village” who are outside of your regular people.  Look for those whose careers you admire, whose choices challenge you, whose roles and attitudes are not just like yours,  they become your guides, your challengers, and your lodestars and you grow!

Her advice was simple:  as a leader, ask yourself these questions regularly, in the company of other leaders.  Tell the truth and then commit together to respond in such a way that you are psychologically, physically and emotionally healthier.  Those you lead will be grateful.  Your leadership will improve.  And when leaders get better, everyone benefits!

Looking for a mentor for you village?  Contact us.  We’d be delighted to be part of your village.


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