15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2002
Leaders struggle today with the volume and complexity of human relationships as well as the aspects of their jobs that don't directly involve people. Increasing demands challenge us with continual complications, too many choices, speed of change and action, and the sense of being caught in a whirlwind that defies the concept of life-work balance. We're expected to have all the answers, preferably before anyone else thinks about asking the questions.
Combine this gerbil-in-a-cage metaphor with the uncomfortable fact that most leaders haven't learned enough about leadership, and you have a dangerous combination. What is leadership? How is it different from being a manager? How can leaders keep their finger on the pulse of what's happening, inspire others to high achievement, guide their team members through difficult decisions, and still have time to actually finish a cup of coffee while it's still warm?
The solution is disarmingly simple: Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Ask some more questions. Give good answers to questions asked by others.
Easier said than done. There's an art to effective move-us-forward questions and answers. The secrets are in Chris Clarke-Epstein's book. She provides us with 78 valuable questions, but doesn't stop there. In addition to gaining a fine list of questions , we benefit from an explanation of the importance of the question, how to ask it well, and what might be accomplished through the questioning technique. The style is friendly, conversational, and supportive, seasoned with short stories or vignettes that illustrate the many helpful suggestions and observations offered by the author.
The book's chapters are organized to categorize the questions and the commentary surrounding them. The first category, presented after a few pages of positioning, addresses questions leaders need to ask themselves. Chapter 2 presents questions leaders need to ask customers. The third and fourth chapters explore questions to be asked of employees-lots of creative stuff here.
In Chapter 5, we ponder questions to be asked in special situations: new employees, coaching and mentoring, newly promoted leaders, and crisis. Questions leaders need to answer are followed by answers for special situations. What a handbook! You can read this book straight through as I did, or use it for reference (as I will). The last chapter talks about delivering tough answers, sometimes a difficult proposition for leaders. More questions are suggested in the appendix and a website has been established to continue the question-building process. An index facilitates reference. The Suggested Reading list is a bonus.
The book is peppered with quotes about questions and answers that reinforce the points and/or give the reader something more to think about. At the end of each chapter are questions and worksheets for the reader, encouraging some deeper thinking and reflection. Overall, a worthwhile book for leaders-and aspiring leaders-to read, absorb, and keep handy.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2002
Not until I read Chris Clarke-Epstein's book did I realize how important it is for leaders to ask good questions. I great resource for how to build relationships and develop leadership skills. A quick read, a must read, for all leaders who want to be more effective.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The author of this very readable book stimulates thought about leadership and organizational culture by posing questions and suggesting answers. This format makes the book work better than a narrative. The Q&A format is modular, encouraging readers to sample the questions they find most interesting. And the context of questioning encourages us to find our own answers beyond the author's suggestions. Socrates might well give it a read.
Readers are encouraged to grow as leaders by asking the right questions of themselves and those around them. This process works, although readers are well advised by the author to proceed thoughtfully and selectively rather than using the questions as a checklist. The more important questions are the ones we ask ourselves and struggle to answer truthfully. Some of the more interesting of the 78 questions are:
- What are you afraid of? (p. 19)
- What gets in the way of your doing your job? (p. 67)
- If you had to describe our organization in one word, what would that word be? (p. 104)
- What makes you angry in the workplace? (p. 155)
- Am I going to have a job next month? (p. 180)
I'll close with my own question. Each chapter ends with a "Chapter Worksheet" filled with questions. This is a useful review technique. Instead of simply listing the questions, the author inserts lined spaces after each one, giving the reader space to answer. This suggests that the book is designed for use in a seminar--and also designed not to be re-used by subsequent readers. To me, this goes a little too far to boost new book sales. Why not save a couple of trees and make the book a little shorter and a lot more re-usable? :)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2007
The book is well organized into questions for different stakeholders of the business and different situations a leader may face. The questions and the intended purpose of the questions are well explained. The book would be very useful for someone starting in a new leadership role or someone who has been in a role for a while and wants to recharge the energy of the role. The questions casue the leader and respondents to reflect and explore new possibilities. Excellent tool for business and other institutional leaders.