Five Courage Factors For Team Performance - PDF Download
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Sam Freedman[*], retired chairman of Web Clothes, a 150-store retail chain in the United States, was a master at asking tough questions when he visited the stores in his chain. In less than ten minutes, Sam could ask a few diagnostic questions, listen and watch carefully, and tell, without looking at a single financial report, how the store was performing. It was uncanny.
Sam couldn't have accomplished what he needed to do without asking tough questions. Think about it. A good, tough question— Sam's kind of question—is like a sharp knife that can peel away the surface and allow a penetrating look into the inner world of the team. As Sam said, "It tells more than what's going on. It tells you what people think and how they set their priorities and order their world." Asking a tough question itself takes more than a little courage, since it may uncover information that makes us uncomfortable or vulnerable. However, it often unlocks opportunity in the guise of the choices not available until we have the courage to ask. Armed with a good question, we suddenly have the potential for alternatives based on the information we uncover—if, like Sam, we pay attention to what is said, what isn't said, how things look and smell, and how what we see compares with the words people say.
A good, tough question is a vehicle for discovering truth that adds significance to all five courage factors:
To candor, by seeking the truth and feedback
To purpose, with a train of thought that leads in a particular direction, consistent with what drives the business
To will, by building confidence and optimism, particularly if there are serious gaps to address and serious problems to put right
To rigor, with the discipline to bring order to both our thinking and our actions
To risk, by drawing people together, building trust, and forming a tighter bond and a stronger partnership
Attached are thirty tough questions that will enable you to assess the strength of your team regarding each of the five courage factors. As you read each question, think about the behavior you observe in your team. You'll find a scoring template for the thirty questions on the attached sheet. Flag that page for easy answering.