What To Ask The Person In The Mirror by Robert Steven Kaplan - Book review



What to Ask the Person in the Mirror

Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential


By: Robert Steven Kaplan

Published: August 3, 2011
Hardcover: 288 pages
ISBN-10: 1422170012
ISBN-13: 978-1422170014
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press










"In the course of these experiences, I have found that almost without exception, successful leaders go through significant periods of time in which they feel confused, discouraged, and unsure of themselves and their decisions. They feel as if they should be somewhere else, doing something else. They wonder why other executives seem to have an easier time doing their jobs", writes Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School and co-chairman of Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Robert Steven Kaplan, in his brilliant and insightful book What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential. The author describes how leaders are not born to greatness, but that their leadership skills are learned techniques that can be added to any successful executives personal toolbox.

Robert Kaplan understands that while leaders develop their leadership skills and abilities over time, the techniques and knowledge take hard work and determination to master. The author points out that all leaders enter into periods, that are often very lengthy in terms of time, where they doubt their own skills and ability to make the right decisions and take the proper course of action. Robert Kaplan writes that it's not the role of the successful leader to avoid their times of self doubt and loss of confidence. Instead, the author shares the skills and exercises that will guide the leader to take a step back and ask what are described as a series of critical questions. These personal queries provide fresh insights into the real problems, develop solutions and a plan of action that the leader can utilize to propel the organization forward to meet and overcome any challenge.



Robert Steven Kaplan (photo left) understands that all leaders experience times of self doubt and uncertainty. This important observation leads the author to the insight that successful leaders discover how to work through these periods of personal crisis. Robert Kaplan describes the techniques that are learned, practiced, and put into action to establish effective leaders in any field of endeavor. The starting point for this long and often difficult journey toward confident leadership begins with asking oneself the critical questions.

Robert Kaplan provides seven areas of personal questioning that lead to successful and effective leadership. The seven principles are as follows:

* Vision and priorities
* Managing your time
* Giving and getting feedback
* Succession planning and delegation
* Evaluation and alignment
* The leader as role model
* Reaching your potential

For me, the power of the book is how Robert Steven Kaplan combines his theoretical framework for establishing successful leadership skills, with the practical techniques, tools, and exercises necessary to create dynamic personal change and growth. The author supports his recommendations with his decades of personal experience with leaders of all types. Unlike many leadership book authors, Robert Kaplan acknowledges that learning the essential skills of leadership is a long and often difficult process that can't be achieved overnight. Instead, the author presents a realistic overview of the entire personal leadership journey, and how many of the steps present a major challenge to potential leaders.

I highly recommend the practical and idea filled book What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential by Robert Steven Kaplan, to anyone seeking a clear and realistic guide to developing personal leadership skills that really work to guide executives in overcoming challenges in any field. This book will transform anyone, who is willing to put in the time and effort, into an effective leader who gets things done to benefit the entire organization and its future.

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