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Do your anecdotes paint you into a corner?

· Leadership,Coaching,Questions
When is it helpful to share the stories of your professional past? Are you the first to bring up the precedent? "We tried that in 200... " Are you the expert in how things came to be as they are or as you are? Does it make you the centre of organizational learning or someone known for living in the past? Familiarity with and application of the past can be a strength and talent: in Clifton StrengthsFinder it's called Context. Our stories can inform, amuse and distract, they also make our brand. A passion for the shared history of the firm can appear as aversion to change, progress and the future. How do your colleagues see you? Can you get stuck in this brand; stuck in character; stuck in the past?

I share this work in progress in the spirit of working out loud. Thank you to the clients, friends, authors and serendipity that inspired the questions. Notice which questions are productive for you and tell me where they take you. You can read more as I post them here. Enjoy the journey.

Are you happier at the end of this month than you were a month ago?

Do you have an off switch ?

Do they argue about your leadership or because of it?

Are you benefiting from a desire to be first?

Whose curiosity delivers the highest return?

Can you be both firm and flexible ?

Are you emotionally ready to lead today?

Who is the 'you' that your colleagues will meet at work next week?

How can you guard against political behaviour derailing critical projects?

Have you noticed when your motivation causes you to act against your interests ?

Finite experience or endless accumulation ?

From whose perspective could there be any better time to act than now ?

Is there a word that’s used more and understood less than leadership? What do you use it for?

What blocks your forgiveness?

Has your team developed its own shared learning strategy?

Are you feeling comfortable?

Who benefits when you tag an employee as high potential?

Have you just misplaced your purpose ?

Are any of your staff uncomfortable to say 'I don't know’ in front of you?

Are you giving up before proficiency sets in?

How are you developing your emotional intelligence competencies to become a better leader?

Are you shaping your job or is your job shaping you?

How nice is nice enough at work?

Are you hearing what every member of your team has to contribute?

When was the last time you said 'I don't know’ ?

Are you more anxious sitting or standing ?

Who trusts your gut more than your do?

Is it a myth that you have all created to work with an uncomfortable truth?

Absent of feedback, how do you gather data for your development?

Do your anecdotes paint you into a corner?

Where did you learn to behave like that?

How does that door of opportunity look from the other side?

How do you catalyse the conversion of potential into performance ?

Did you realise you had the solution until you talked to someone else?

Does your aggression make more aggression?

When do your biases betray you most: when you are making decisions about people or money?

How will you sleep next week?

Is it clear what you may not say?

Are your war stories holding you back?

Did you realise you had the solution until you talked to someone else?

Have you said ‘I couldn’t resist the opportunity’? Why & why not?

Are you complimented for your explanations ?

Are you waiting for the organisation to change you?

Can a deliverable show gratitude ?

How could you help HR do a better job for you?

What do you want to see when you look back?

Are you embarrassed to talk about your network ?

When you say, ‘Now. Let me tell you something about myself’ Do you?

What first impression did you give yourself today?

Are you the cause of the problems you are complaining about?

How far out of the box is out enough ?

Do you control it if you can tell a story about it?

How do they react when you ask for help ?

Does punishment have any place at work?

What don't you hear when you’re wearing headphones ?

Did you accept every meeting request yesterday?

How many identities do you have at work?

We work in & with organisations, but what are they?

Which delay are you wishing for?

Have you been beneficially embarrassed ?

If you agree that it’s cheaper to retain than to hire, what are you doing intentionally to retain the right people?

Will you choose happiness today?

Does failure tell you more about your strengths or you weaknesses ?

What's the point where positive thinking begins to work against you?

Is a paradigm shift within your grasp?

When does an obstacle become an objective ?

Which learning experience contributed most to how you lead today? What made it so?

How did you develop your bad habits ?

Do you call out your colleagues on their behaviour ?

Do you have the time for mastery ?

What emotion does the alarm clock summon up?

While you cannot see a solution today, what resources do you have that could help solve your problem ?

Have you tried dancing with the systems to which you belong?

How did you hold yourself back this week?

Does your organisation value heroics over planfulness ?

What grabs your attention ?

What specifically do you do to increase employee engagement ?

When did you last take an unpopular stand?

Limited resources or a blank cheque ?

When did you last notice you were uncomfortable ?

Who is attracting the best talents to your firm?

Do you hear ‘Take a year off’ as a gift or a threat ?

Who benefits most from your ignorance ?

Who has the clearest picture of who you could be ?

When is the last time you changed your mind and made yourself unpopular ?

If your network defines you, what is the definition you’re offering the world?

Is the road to mediocrity paved with best practices ?

"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” How do you defend against Murphy's law?

How do you demonstrate to your staff the difference between management and leadership?

Who is everybody ?

Are you forgiving unhelpful behaviours when you use the word authenticity ?

Can you hear the dog that doesn't bark in the night?

Where are you looking for meaningfulness?

Does desire lead to talent?

This week, will you first attend to your problems or your happiness ?

Monday morning: Sailing into uncharted waters or arriving with purpose ?

Once you have taken the trouble to find the common ground do you take the time to stand in it together?

Who do you spend most time encouraging ?

Can people who tell you to learn from failure do it themselves?

How often do you review your stakeholder map ?

What’s happening when you’re not around?

Do you notice how you influence the emotional states of others?

Do you feel more confident in the middle of the year ?

Do you appreciate to be persuaded ?

Guilt or shame ?

Do you recognise the connection between self-awareness & self-esteem ?

Open-plan office or coffee shop, where are there fewer distractions?

What truth can you not handle?

When you’re struggling to sort out one problem, do you find yourself thinking of all the other problems you’ve got?

How do you use your behaviour to turn around a poor performer ?

Are you ready for business today?

Will you do good and make money this week?

How do you make a safe space for your staff ?

When was the last time you had to decide between friendship and ethical behaviour ?

Do you spend more effort telling people you are right or wrong?

When was the last time at work you avoided making a decision which would lead to an uncomfortable conversation ?

Why not promote from within?

When do you insist on root cause analysis ?

Did you beat your rivals to the middle of the year?

Who do you cite as the paragon of responsibility ?

Does the realistic dimension undermine your SMART objectives ?

Do you record what you delegate and analyse the results ?

Do you submit or subscribe to a vision ?

To whose criticism are you most sensitive?

Are leaders, whose vocabulary includes the word ‘hypothesis’, more or less successful?

What tells you that an organisation is organised ?

How do you show less experienced staff that consistent conformity is not a professional behaviour?

How do you identify emotional intelligence in others?

How do you agree on the level of quality to deliver ?

Have you mastered your handshake ?

I'm delighted to meet my customers. Are you?

Why could it never happen to you?

When did you last drink a glass of water?

Are you giving (enough) positive, validating, appreciative feedback?

Who can you nudge to action?

Can you wriggle out of it?

Does anyone have time to watch the clock anymore?

Do you tolerate more than you respect ?

Who is the last enemy you made at work?

What's the advantage of getting lost in your emotions ?

Do you work for an organisation that makes you more valuable each day?

Who are you sponsoring?

How do you decide which decisions to delegate?

Do you give your customers new ideas?

How would you construct an anonymous mentoring program? How could you benefit more than traditional mentoring?

How high is your moral high ground?

What did you do last year that makes you successful now?

Who has contributed most to your self-respect ?

Who sets your career goals ?

Andrew Jones is an Executive Coach and Career Counselor. Please contact Andrew directly to learn more about this topic or subscribe below to hear more from Andrew in the future.