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What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential Hardcover – July 19, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422170012
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422170014
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #315,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The areas appear as chapters with a concluding section that underlines his findings, making the book easy to follow.” — Director magazine

“Leaders don’t have all the answers … When you’re unsure what to do next, it’s time to answer the questions that Kaplan poses in his seven steps.” – Dallas Morning News

“Kaplan's business philosophy, applicable to everyone from CEOs to new college graduates, begins with a willingness to ask questions.” – Chicago Tribune

“the key strength of the book is its practical approach. – People Management

“In his timeless book, What to Ask the Person in the Mirror, Kaplan offers seven basic types of inquiry or areas of focus—actually a system of inquiry that ties the leadership function together—that you should be looking at on a regular basis.” - LeadershipNow

“Kaplan is part of a refreshing vanguard of management scholars who no longer view the CEO as a superhero, the corner office Zeus who creates value by force of will and top-down edict. Rather, the modern executive is reflective, empathetic, full of self-awareness, someone who leads by example and by motivation, not by power and fear.” – BNET

“…Kaplan argues against the notion that great leadership is about having all the answers. He believes that leadership skills can be learned—and that many of these skills require executives to rethink their conception of what a superb leader actually does. Developing and practicing these skills requires hard work and may demand that talented executives overcome some degree of discomfort and even anxiety in order to raise their game.” – HBS Working Knowledge

“Throughout the cabinet file of information stacked into these pages, challenging questions are asked that will make you ponder the success rate of leadership strategies you employ.” – Kennedy Book Reviews

“Grab a copy of this easy-to-read yet deeply insightful book.” – 800 CEO READ

“Reading Rob Kaplan’s brilliant new book is like being coached by a great mentor. Written clearly and lucidly, with dozens of real-world examples, Kaplan’s savvy and practical advice results from hundreds of outstanding leaders he has mentored successfully. Don’t just read it—incorporate his ideas into your leadership.” — Bill George
Author, True North; professor of management practice, Harvard Business School

“Rob Kaplan is an outstanding leader and business executive. In What to Ask the Person in the Mirror, he provides a valuable and adaptable framework that can be used by business and nonprofit leaders. This book lays out the important questions that leaders should ask in order to achieve their goals and reach their potential.” — Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
Seventy-fourth Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury; Chairman and CEO , Goldman Sachs (1999–2006)

“Kaplan succeeds in translating his vast knowledge of the leadership field into clear, graceful language, almost as if he is having a conversation with the reader. He tells engaging stories to illustrate his general points—the most effective way to give abstract concepts life. This book should have a wide readership.” — Doris Kearns Goodwin
Pulitzer Prize–winning presidential historian and author, Team of Rivals

About the Author

Robert Steven Kaplan is a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and former vice chairman of The Goldman Sachs Group. He is also co-chairman of Draper, Richards and Kaplan, a global venture philanthropy firm. He advises numerous companies around the world.

More About the Author

Robert Steven Kaplan is a Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School and co-chairman of Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, a global venture philanthropy firm.

Prior to joining Harvard Business School in September 2005, Rob served as Vice Chairman of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. with oversight responsibility for the Investment Banking and Investment Management Divisions. He was also a member of the firm's Management Committee and served as Co-Chairman of the firm's Partnership Committee and Chairman of the Goldman Sachs Pine Street Leadership Program. During his career at the firm, he also served in various other capacities including Global Co-Head of the Investment Banking Division (1999 to 2002), Head of the Corporate Finance Department (1994 to 1999) and Head of Asia-Pacific Investment Banking (1990 to 1994). Rob became a partner in 1990.

Rob is the founding Co-Chair of the Harvard Neuro Discovery Center Advisory Board. He is also Co-Chairman of the Board of Project A.L.S., Co-Chairman of the Board of the TEAK Fellowship, Co-chair of the Executive Committee for Harvard University Office of Sustainability Greenhouse Gas Emission Implementation Planning, and is a member of the Boards of the Harvard Medical School, Harvard Management Company (served as Acting President and Chief Executive Officer, November 2007 to June 2008), the Ford Foundation, and the Jewish Theological Seminary. Previously, Rob was appointed by the Governor of Kansas as a member of the Kansas Healthcare Policy Authority Board (2006-2010) and also served as a member of the Investors Advisory Committee on Financial Markets of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Rob is a member of the Board of the State Street Corporation, is a Senior Advisor to Indaba Capital Management, LLC, is an Advisory Director of Berkshire Partners LLC and is chairman of the Investment Advisory Committee of Google, Inc. Previously, he was a member of the Board of Bed, Bath and Beyond, Inc. (1994-2009). He also serves in an advisory capacity for a number of companies.

Rob received an M.B.A. from Harvard in 1983 and a B.S. from the University of Kansas in 1979.

Prior to attending business school, Rob was a certified public accountant at Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co in Kansas City.




Customer Reviews

As I read this book, I found myself nodding in agreement, occasionally thinking, "that's obvious," and then - wow!
Carolyn Langelier
I highly recommend this book not only for leaders of organizations but also for every professional who is working on clarity of direction.
San Francisco
Picturesque stories are told, which work to illustrate the key points and present the situations discussed in real-world examples.
Kennedy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For than 2,000 years, those who mastered the Socratic method of inquiry have demonstrated the value of asking the right questions in the right way. It is a skill that anyone can master. What we have in this volume is still another explanation of how and why framing the right questions can help aspiring leaders, especially, to take greater ownership of what is most important to them. They do so by completing a process that consists of a series of questions:

o What do I need to know? Why?
o Where and how can I obtain the information I need?
o How and when will I take action on what I have learned?
o To what extent (if any) will I need assistance?
o How can I best measure the progress and impact of my efforts?

Robert Steven Kaplan has carefully organized his material within seven "areas of focus" that are most relevant to the fulfilling the career ambitions and personal fulfillment of aspiring leaders. He devotes a separate chapter to each and then, in Chapter 8, he explains how to "bring it all together" in the proper perspective. His stated purpose is to formulate a "menu of potential inquiry" and create a process by which key questions can be framed and debated. I fully agree with Kaplan that the challenge is twofold: "framing the right questions, and, getting in the regular habit of stepping back and asking them." It's that simple...and that difficult.

How so "difficult"? Consider the nature of a crisis: It frequently occurs unexpectedly and requires immediate attention. With rare exception, there is an insufficiency of information initially; pressure and stress intensify exponentially while a response is being determined. The right answers, the best decisions, require asking the right questions.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Sara on July 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had been looking for a book that would offer actionable advice and
suggestions on how to better manage my time and set priorities for me and my
team. Starting with a "clean sheet of paper" has been one of the
most valuable exercises in the book. I have read books about leadership
before, but they always seemed very academic and so abstract that they
weren't actually relevant in the real world- or to me and my work in particular- but
this book is different. It's obvious from the start that Kaplan is
someone who has been there and understands what its like
to actually run an organization. I could have used this book when I was just starting out!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Andria L. Corso on October 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to say I was extremely excited to buy this book; as a leadership coach and a fan of Kaplan's work, the title really appealed to me. I am always seeking information on critical questions leaders can ask of themselves to become better at what they do. However, after reading the first half of the book, not only was I disappointed at the lack of critical questions that leaders should be asking themselves, but I was surprised at how "basic" the information of the book is. There is really nothing new here. Yes, there is good info on creating and communicating your vision, giving and receiving feedback, and the importance of succession planning but nothing that cannot be found in countless other books out there on leadership. I expected much more from a Harvard Business / Robert Steven Kaplan book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gary Pittard on August 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a leadership book I'd say this one is OK, but that's as far as I'd go. I don't think it goes into grass-roots leadership anywhere deeply enough. For me it was more academia than real-life. The book is predictable, which is not so bad if it's predictable while containing many good lessons, but take out the case histories and you could sum up the lessons in this book in twenty or so pages. @garypittard - #garypittard
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35 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Sanford on August 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book has no insights at all, is not even conversational in an Oprah way, offers no rigorous analytic either, provides no stories about Harvard or Goldman and thus is a thorough waste of money. I cannot understand why the author published this book, or thanked so many famous people, especially when there are no specific experiences mentioned. Instead of this book, I would suggest any book by John Kotter, who is the big boss of leadership at HBS, or by Rosabeth Kanter, who writes about how to deal with tough situations, also of Harvard.

The books starts strong, promising a list of things any leader must know and embrace but then it keeps repeating the promise without ever delving into any detail. First, the author talks about developing leaders at Pine Street, but that is a program at Goldman Sachs, which is an investment bank. There is no such thing as leadership at an investment bank. One person calls the client, the other prices the deal, both work off selfish self-interest. The author does not show if or how he overcame this tendency of the banker.

Second, unlike the book by Don Keogh of Coke (I think its Penguin), the author offers not proof of his analysis. I mean did
he gain market share, reduce costs and improve employee retention while he was at Goldman Sachs, and if not, what other benefit did he bring to the firm other than cut himself a good pay.

Third, he appears to have been Vice Chairman of Goldman when it was building up its horrible mess in mortgages, did he do anything about it? He also does not address the elephant in the room, which is had the Treasury Secretary not bailed out his former firm, and the taxpayer give it (what now turns out to be $90 billion in secret loans) would it have survived?
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