Leadership Weekend with Gary: Apples, Cars, and Halt


Asking Questions with APPLE

Asking questions is critical to great leadership. Remembering to ask questions can be difficult for new leaders. If you are struggling with asking questions, try this acronym, APPLE!

Ask the right question. Right questions are open-ended and encouraging. They help others imagine new solutions.

Pause after you ask the question. Accept silence, even if it’s uncomfortable. The pause gives your team time to think. Don’t bail your team out with another question (unless your first was poorly worded) and don’t provide your answer.

Pick a team member to provide the first answer. Always start with either the most introverted or the lowest ranking to draw them out, then let the usual suspects respond.

Listen closely to what is said. Does the body language confirm the comment, indicate indecision, or suggest falsehood? What wasn’t said, and why?

Expound on what you hear and test it out with additional questions. Show understanding and enthusiasm for your team’s ideas and a willingness to bestow credit and explore further.  The more you demonstrate this support and interest, the more your team will reward you with greater alignment, engagement, and accountability.

Bring an APPLE to the next meeting to remind you that asking questions with APPLE works!



Your CARs Can Get You Hired

Getting hired can be difficult,  even for talented leaders–not because they’re not the right for particular jobs, but because they don’t know how to tell their stories.

Chris Cohen, a partner at the Chandler Group and one of the top three executive recruiters in Minneapolis working with non-profits, instructs job candidates to know their CARs:




CARs will help you tell your story in the form employers want to hear–the challenges you’ve faced, the actions you took to overcome these challenges, and the results you secured for your organization.

Brainstorm as many CARs as you can, then write down the best ones.

Commit them to memory and work them into your resume and cover letters. Have them in your proverbial pocket so that you can respond thoughtfully in interviews, and share your best CARs with recruiters so that they can retell them to their clients.

If you want your CARs to get off the lot and get you hired, practice and perfect your stories. Great stories stick.

Related Reading: If you want to know how to make something sticky, pick up Made to Stick by the Heath Brothers (an excellent read)!



HALT! Stop speaking and start eating!

Executive Coaching clients seek wisdom that is memorable and easy to implement. Sometimes that wisdom is geared toward actions they, as leaders, can and should take; other times it’s toward actions they shouldn’t take.

HALT falls in the latter category.  I learned it from Dr. Faron Hollinger, a former School Superintendent from Alabama and now a Board Chair for Board of School Superintendents. Dr. Hollinger recommends that leaders not say anything if they are:





If you’re hungry, angry, lonely, and/or tired, you’re not in a good position to lead others. You’re likely to make decisions or comments that you later regret–especially if you’re speaking in front of reporters, other leaders, easily influenced coworkers, or large groups. You can’t un-say these words and withdraw their effect on others.

If you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, HALT!

Before you say or do something you might later regret, eat some food, cool down, find good company, and/or get some rest.


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Gary Cohen is Author, Speaker (on leadership) & Executive Coach at CO2 Partners
He serves clients with executive coaching and leadership coaching services

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Image Sources: 4.bp.blogspot.com, desktopmachine.com, s.123rf.com


One response to “Leadership Weekend with Gary: Apples, Cars, and Halt

  1. Pingback: Leadership updates for 02/05/2012·

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