Why the Best Leaders Are Habitually Wrong

Leaders are expected to have all the right answers. But getting those answers means asking the right questions. And the higher one climbs, the harder it becomes to ask these questions. How can you overcome this dilemma? Start early – establish bubble-bursting habits now to help surface the information you need tomorrow. Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center, has recently shared tools in the Harvard Business Review that can you can use today.

Based on Gregersen’s interviews with more than 200 executives, one of the primary challenges for a CEO is the information bubble imposed by the position. Employees are reluctant to give the boss bad news, and as a result, critical information can arrive too late or not at all. The answer lies in asking the right questions. As Gregersen writes, “Persistent CEOs almost always get the information they request… Their bigger problem is getting information they haven’t demanded because they don’t know to ask for it.”

How can you make asking good questions become habit? By being “unexpectedly wrong,” “unusually uncomfortable,” and “uncharacteristically quiet.” Detailed in the HBR article, practicing these three techniques regularly will get you to the right questions.

To learn more about how Gregersen’s leadership expertise can benefit your organization, contact us.

Danny Stern: