Just Ask Leadership

Just Ask Leadership by Gary Cohen When the book Just Ask Leadership by Gary Cohen, was first announced last year--I couldn't wait for it to come out. The thesis of the book is that the best leaders are those who ask informed questions. It was Peter Drucker who said, "The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell. The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask." I believe that. I had the opportunity to study the book with my Executive Pastors Coaching Network in December, and even had a chance to interview the author (video snippets coming soon). It would be impossible to write about every part of the book that I enjoyed, but here are some of my favorite quotes:




  • Egos can vault you into a leadership position, but as a leader you now must set your ego aside and relinquish control.
  • Cultures develop (within a company or organization), intentionally or unintentionally. So don't leave this matter to chance.
  • David McLaughlin, former chairman of the Red Cross and past president of Dartmouth College, said that he always knew whether he was leading or managing. If he was handling issues that were one to five years out, he was leading. If the problems were closer to the present, he was managing. [I agree, though for me I know I'm leading when the issues are 3-12 months out. If they are closer, I am managing...which sometimes is required for a season.]
  • Leaders may hesitate to fire ineffectual or untrustworthy coworkers out of fear of not being liked, or because of the work involved with hiring and covering gaps. The longer these employees are kept on, the better prospective employees look. The desire to fill the position quickly combined with the desire for a skilled, trustworthy employee can, however, result in leaders feeling "selector's remorse" six months later.
  • In meetings, leaders have difficulty keeping quiet when they have an idea that's better than the ones currently being batted around. Revealing that idea, however, often spoils the learning and discovery process of their coworkers.
  • If you think you're talking too much in a meeting, so does everyone else.
  • Poet and organizational philosopher Dave Whyte calls leaders the "chief conversationalists." He believes leaders should think not of what they have to do but of what conversations need to take place.
  • Centralized leadership doesn't work with the current generation. People want to work their way, not your way. They know what motivates them and how they best achieve results and obtain information, and they want to receive full credit for their efforts.
  • The person best equipped to solve a problem is the one who lives with it every day. Don't make decisions for your coworkers. With questions, help them expand their consciousness so that they can see the world anew. Help them make their own decisions.

Thanks to Gary Cohen for a great book. Where do you see these thoughts intersection church leadership? Where do they fall short?

Tim Stevens5 Comments