QUESTIONS THAT WORK WHEN:
Leading the Way
Life's most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?
MARTIN LUTHER KING
It is often said that you cannot manage what you cannot measure. How can you, then, measure the qualities of leadership? Is there a way to quantify taking risk, encouraging change, taking action, creating knowledge, teaching the next generation, defining a vision, sharing a culture, or being ethical? What a leader does—take on great responsibility and great adversity—is difficult to measure. Often the only measurement is the final result, the success or failure of an entire enterprise. What remains behind—the organization, the standards, the spirit— when the leader is gone tells the story. In the end, the greatest praise for a leader is the lasting, unspoken dignity of those who worked with the leader.
Jeff DeCagna, a commentator on business learning, was troubled by my repeated use of the word “manager” when I asked for his ideas. He refers to managers as those who “do things right,” while leaders “do the right things.” He asked whether I was talking about leaders instead of managers when applying the concept of question asking. In his mind, leaders are leaders because they take the wider view of the organization or are more focused on the mission.1 We can agree that people want to be led, not managed. I'll share an experience of interpreting the words “leadership” and “management.” On my first day at the Poynter Institute, participating in a six-month program to study leadership development, the class was asked (in the first of many questions) why we were there. I argued that the world needs fewer managers and more leaders, since leaders make things happen, while managers simply follow up. At the end of the entire program, I reconsidered my position when the same question was asked again. I acknowledged that “management” is the foundation upon which leadership can be built. There may be leaders who can motivate and inspire a workforce, despite a lack