Hello To All,
Happy New Year! I hope you have completed your plan for 2013. I trust that you know what a successful 2013 looks like and you are eager to accomplish your plan. Please share your plan with your coach. You coach wants to help you be successful.

This month we want to share some thoughts on Leadership….

A Leadership Checklist: 7 Questions to Ask Yourself

Even outstanding leaders struggle through career stretches during which they feel off track. It can be hard to spot the specific problem when you’re in the middle of it. But successful leaders develop techniques for recognizing their vulnerabilities and making rapid adjustments. Seven Leadership Checkpoints Leaders should regularly ask themselves questions that target seven areas, according to Robert S. Kaplan, in a recent article of Harvard Business Review:

    1. Vision and Priorities

    2. Managing Time

    3. Feedback

    4. Succession Planning

    5. Evaluation and Alignment

    6. Leading Under Pressure

    7. Staying True to Yourself
Coming up with good answers is far less important than taking the time to ask yourself hard questions and honestly examine your strengths and weaknesses.

Vision and Priorities

Many business leaders fail to ask themselves two important questions:
    1. How frequently do I communicate a vision and the priorities for my business?

    2. Would my employees, if asked, be able to articulate the vision and priorities?
It is difficult to lead people if they lack a firm grasp of where they’re heading and what’s expected of them. Unfortunately, many leaders neglect to explain their vision in an easily understood manner.

Employees want to know where a business is heading and the areas on which they need to focus. Many managers either unintentionally under-communicate or fail to articulate specific priorities that would give meaning to their vision.

Ask yourself:
  • How often do I communicate a vision for my business?

  • Have I identified and communicated three to five key priorities for achieving this vision?

  • If asked, could my employees articulate my vision and priorities?

Managing Time

How do you spend your time?

Your answer plays a major role in the execution of your vision and priorities. Time is your most precious asset.

Sadly, many leaders cannot accurately answer this question. It’s vital for them to track their time so they can gain a realistic, honest assessment of how their time is allocated. You may be surprised to find a disconnect between your top priorities and how you actually spend your time.

Ask yourself:

  • How am I spending my time? Does this match my key priorities?

  • How are my subordinates spending their time? Does this match my business’ key priorities?

Many managers are afraid that criticism will demoralize employees, discussions will become confrontational, or frank conversations will result in their not being liked. This prompts many to postpone giving feedback until it’s time for annual performance reviews.

This is a big mistake. People are more receptive to learning about themselves when feedback is offered throughout the year, as situations arise.

It is much more challenging to get honest feedback from subordinates. You must cultivate a network of junior professionals who are willing to be direct with you. Equally important is what you do with the feedback. If you act on what others tell you, you will improve your own performance, boost trust and keep the feedback loop open.

Ask yourself:
  • Do I give people timely and direct feedback to act upon?

  • Do I have five or six junior subordinates who will tell me things I may not want to hear—but need to hear?
Succession Planning

If you aren’t identifying potential successors and developing their leadership abilities, then you are contributing to business and personal stagnation.

When challenging and testing people, you must frequently delegate more to them. This frees you to focus on critical strategic matters facing the business. Failure to actively plan for succession means you do not delegate sufficiently and become a decision-making bottleneck.

Ask yourself:
  • Have I, at least in my own mind, picked one or more potential successors?

  • Am I coaching them and giving them challenging assignments?

  • Am I delegating sufficiently?

  • Have I become a decision-making bottleneck?
Evaluation and Alignment

Your business is constantly changing. So are your customers. Depending on your industry, this may be rapid—or extremely rapid. If you don’t change along with the business environment, you may become seriously out of alignment. What got you here today won’t necessarily get you there tomorrow.

Have you checked to see if the design of your organization still aligns with key success factors for your business? Effective executives regularly seek advice and fresh perspectives from people who are less emotionally invested in their business.

Ask yourself:
  • Does the design of my company still align with key success factors?

  • If I had to design my business from scratch, how would I create it? How would it differ from the current design?

  • Should I create a task force to answer these questions and make recommendations?
Leading Under Pressure

A leader’s actions during stressful times have a profound impact on the firm’s culture and employees’ behaviors. Successful leaders must be aware of their personal stress triggers and reactions.

Pressure is a normal part of doing business, but it affects people differently. What may evoke anxiety for one individual may not bother someone else. As a leader, you are watched closely. Emotions are contagious—even more so when they come from the leader.

Ask yourself:
  • Which events create pressure for me?

  • How do I behave under pressure?

  • What signals do I send to subordinates?

  • Are these signals helpful, or do they undermine the success of my business?
Staying True to Yourself

Successful executives develop leadership styles that fit their business needs, as well as their personal beliefs and personality. While many leaders ask themselves about the former, few analyze the latter.

Companies require leaders who can express strongly held views, rather than mimic the party line. Don’t tiptoe around significant issues or foster an atmosphere that encourages employees to do so.

Ask yourself:

  • Is my leadership style comfortable? Does it reflect who I truly am?

  • Do I assert myself sufficiently, or have I become tentative?

  • Am I too politically correct?

  • Does anxiety about my next promotion or bonus cause me to hesitate when I want to express my views?

Final Thoughts:

Final Thoughts: If you know someone who would like to start 2013 with a coach, I would love to help them find the right coach. Give me a call at 312-842-4577 or e-mail me by clicking here .

Coach Jerry


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Jerry Pinney

For the last twenty-two years Jerry Pinney has been president of his own consulting firm. Currently he focuses his efforts on providing executive and personal coaching to persons who are interested in improving their quality of life and consulting to small and mid-sized companies and nonprofits. He is a facilitator for peer advisory groups with The Alternative Board and is a Certified One Page Planning Consultant. Jerry has over three decades of experience in the food industry, and possesses a unique perspective of customer service, marketing and strategic planning. In addition to overall general management qualifications, Jerry has proven expertise in operational planning and business development. His food industry career started at Jewel Food Stores followed by a long career with IGA, with their retailers, wholesalers and ten years as Vice President of Marketing. In addition Jerry has served as Vice President of Membership for the National Grocers Association, Sr. Vice President of Procurement for Shurfine International and Executive Manager of The Zenon Hansen Foundation.

Jerry has also served on a number of nonprofit boards including: President of the Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago. He is currently a Project Manager for the Executive Service Corps of Chicago. Jerry’s ESC assignments have included coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting on various Board Development projects and on a number of strategic planning projects.

Jerry Pinney & Associates
102 East 32nd Street
Chicago, IL,
phone: 312-842-4577,
fax: 312-842-4705

e-mail me by clicking here


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