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Questions for Leaders Facing Long Odds

By: John Baldoni

Leadership is not a popularity contest. The mark of good leader is how they lead against the odds or even against popular convention.

As much as we admire leaders for exerting leadership against the odds, there are times when a leader who goes against the grain may face disappointment. To avoid it, ask three key critical questions that will assert your right to lead.

What am I doing? Leaders need to support the mission of the organization, so their strategic direction needs to support what the organization is in business to do. If it does not, the alternative is to change the mission. Lou Gerstner did that as CEO of IBM when he shifted the company’s focus from selling hardware and software to providing integrated IT solutions and services.

Why am I doing it? Yes, put the organization first! Leaders have personal agendas, but those agendas need to support the aims of the organization. If they do not, a leader may get too far out ahead or be seen as a lone wolf. More specifically, people are not eager to support someone who they perceive is working only for herself. That makes the process of getting rid of the lone wolf all the more pleasurable.

Is it worth it? This question can be tough to answer. Sometimes it may be wise to maintain the status quo. Other times the organization needs to be pushed (sometimes kicking and screaming) into a new era. When Alan Mulally became CEO of Ford, he and his team developed a global strategy called One Ford that optimized resources to improve vehicles and deliver stronger returns.

These questions demand more than cookie-cutter responses; they challenge the leader to examine what the organization needs and what his or her motives are for pushing for change.


About the Author(s)

John Baldoni is the president of Baldoni Consulting LLC, a full-service executive coaching and leadership development firm. He is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach and the author of many books, including Lead with Purpose, Lead Your Boss, Great Motivation Secrets of Great Leaders, and The Leader’s Pocket Guide: 101 Indispensable Tools, Tips, and Techniques for Any Situation.

AMA is one of the most widely recognized leaders in business training, having provided corporate training solutions for over 95 years. From leadership, communication and managerial training to sales, customer service and analytical skills, AMA has developed a vast array of content and training solutions to help individuals and organizations achieve business results . Each year, AMA delivers thousands of seminars and courses across the United States. With courses offered in a  classroom near you or live online, AMA is a flexible, convenient resource for all of your organization's talent development needs. AMA also offers customized solutions based on your specific talent development requirements.