How Do You Answer Questions About Your Leadership Brand?

I recently watched a fascinating interview that the Wall Street Journal recorded with Logan Green, CEO of Lyft. The topic of the interview was “How I Work." While I am admittedly an Uber guy, I have to tell you that I may give Lyft a try the next time I am in need of a car service. I was really impressed (I was going to write "uber impressed," but that just didn’t seem right!) by Logan’s answers to the interview questions.

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Then I got to thinking, why would one interview with a CEO cause me to shift my loyalty?

Was it his personal style? Some of the attributes I noticed were

  • He was casual yet attentive.
  • He was informal yet focused.
  • He smiled and was also serious.
  • He was both humble and confident.

Not a bad list for a leader! However, as I reflected I realized that it really wasn’t his personal style that resonated with me. I have seen others with great style and, to put it frankly, in the long run I think style is way over rated.

Was it the questions that were asked? They were questions such as

  • Are you a morning person or night owl?
  • Tea or Coffee Guy?
  • What do you do first thing in the morning?
  • What kind of car do you drive?
  • In one word, what is one thing that separates Lyft from Uber?
  • What is the most important thing you are working on as a leader?
  • What is the most distracting thing that happens in your day?
  • If you had to take an Uber or a Yellow Taxi which would you choose?

No, it wasn’t the questions that were asked. I have heard them all before.

Was it his answers to the questions? He said things like

  • Night Owl
  • Anything with caffeine
  • I like to get up in the morning and go for a short run. It really helps wake me up and start the day right.
  • Nissan Leaf
  • We care.
  • Communicating better and more frequently.
  • I would take the Yellow Taxi any day.

Yes, that was it! It wasn’t necessarily what he said that struck me, but how he said it. His answers were thoughtful and penetrating. They were concise and relevant.

Play A Game

How might you as a leader have the same kind of impact with your followers?  I am going to ask you 6 leadership questions. What you have to do is come up with a concise (one to two words if possible, but no more than a sentence), thoughtful, penetrating, and relevant answer.

Ready? Here we go:

  • How would you describe your leadership style?
  • How do you practice self-care?
  • What is the most impactful change you need to make in your leadership?
  • If you had to choose making an ethical decision or maximizing performance, what would you choose?
  • What is the most important thing you do in your day?
  • What is one “do over” you wish you had in your leadership life?

So, how did you do? Having concise and thoughtful answers to questions like this might take some time for you to develop. Perhaps you want to sit with these and reflect for a while. Perhaps you want to ask your team (or your family) how they might answer these questions for you, then compare their answers to yours.

The point

Leaders must have a balance of self-regard and empathy. If these elements are out of balance you will likely end up with a range of behavior from arrogance to paralysis. People will not want to follow you unless they have to. Being overly empathetic will get in the way of productivity. Reflection is a great way to improve both your self-regard and your empathy. That is really what I took away from the interview with Logan Green. He was both confident and caring. How about you? How do you measure up on this emotional intelligence spectrum?

Homework:

Last week I facilitated our Leadership Principles course for a client of ours. This is a course where participants explore their core values, then link them to their leadership principles across 11 different leadership dimensions such as coaching and hiring. At the end of that workshop, we have the participants write their Leadership Epitaph. An Epitaph is a short (no more than 15 word) description that you would want someone to say about you at the end of your life. Why not work on your Leadership Epitaph? What 15 words would you want people who follow your leadership to say about your leadership after you are gone?