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The Best Leadership Question:

“How Am I Doing?”


Julie and I recently got a well-deserved three-day break to Suncadia. It’s a couple hours east of Seattle. In the summer you can play golf, swim, and hike. In the winter, it’s a winter wonderland.

On our first evening we went to a neighboring winery for a quiet dinner. I hadn’t pre-planned my conversation opener… but simply asked: “Honey, how am I doing as your husband?” What followed was perhaps our best heartfelt conversation in months. She was tender in her critique. She was humble in her suggestions. She lovingly shared how I could improve.

She built me up with some nice positives too! Bottom line: I came away with valuable intel… The kind that can really help improve a husband, a father and a leader.

Question: If you lead – At any level… when was the last time you asked, “How am I doing?”

I heard once managers ask, “How are you doing?”

Leaders ask, “How am I doing?”

I have found every time I’ve asked my children my wife my clients… How am I doing? I received valuable feedback that accelerates my personal leadership, growth, and influence in their lives.

Part of my leadership manifesto is to be humble enough to ask for feedback and then make adjustments in order to be a joy to those I love and serve. Try it this week… four words: “How am I doing?”

Your partner in success,

Steve Gutzler

Contact Steve for information on keynote presentations, team workshops, and one on one coaching at:



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What makes a Good Leader?

Steve Gutzler —  January 14, 2014 — 2 Comments

State Library of Vicotoria

“Gaining trust and building teams is hardest”

Good Leaders tend to produce more good leaders.

Quick List of Valued Qualities in Good Leaders:
1. Adapts quickly to new situations; can handle bad news
2. Gives useful feedback; sets high ethical tone
3. Is positive, encouraging, and realistically optimistic

Not too long ago, I was speaking at a large Microsoft Leadership Development Day and gave an opening example of what makes a good leader. I had read a report that asked that very same question by the Army War College in a study of highly regarded major generals in Iraq.
Below are the responses in order of importance:Good leaders produce more good leaders

  • Keeps cool under pressure
  • Clearly explains mission, standards and priorities
  • Sees the big picture; provides context and perspective
  • Makes tough, sound decisions on time

The study showed that even when tactical and technical competencies are excellent, interpersonal skills are critical. One of the authors of the study, retired General Walter Ulmer, said: “One thing we found is it’s still easier to teach technical skills than to teach people how to gain trust and build teams.” Ulmer also noted that many key behaviors are learned by example; therefore good leaders are able to create more good leaders.

I looked at every one of those leaders in that room at Microsoft and said “Look your technical skills and tactical abilities got you into the game. Now, how successful you’ll become will be determined by your ability to harness effective Emotional Intelligence and Play Big!”

Playing Big and Building your Leadership
The stuff that leaders are made of:

  • Emotional Self-Awareness:
    • Stays Calm Under pressure
  • Empathy
    • Is aware of other’s moods
    • Is a good listener
  • Personal Drive
    • Is energetic
    • Is goal oriented
  • Optimism
    • Handles set-backs effectively
    • Had a positive outlook
  • Coaches Others
    • Is a good mentor
    • Gives clear feedback
  • Authenticity
    • Honest and open when presenting one’s self to others
    • Builds trust through actions
  • Communication
    • Gives adequate instruction
    • Doesn’t personalize disagreements
  • Impulse Control
    • Rarely acts impulsively
    • Maintains sense of humor under stress
  • Adaptability
    • Is open to change
    • Is effective through change

One thing I’ve learned about “Playing Big” and leadership throughout my life is that successful application of these skills is not something that happens instantly. But, with even a little improvement in one department, performance goes up, effectiveness goes up, and personal leadership goes up. That is why it is called “PLAYING BIG!”

Emotional Intelligence and Play Big-
How we handle ourselves and our relationships can determine life successes more than IQ.

THIS WEEK: Pick one of the above competencies and practice it. Observe the differences your deliberate practice will make in your life at work and at home!


For information on keynote presentations, team workshops, and one on one coaching, contact Steve at:


“I’m calling all entrepreneurs and leaders to make 2013 their best year to date!” 

I recently sat in a corner office suite with an accomplished leader of a successful and growing firm. Over the course of a working lunch, I offered him a series of strategic questions to help generate a great 2013. This series of “Five Key Questions” is what I offer each of my clients along with bullet point sub-questions.


I have used these the last several years in my own business and leadership endeavors and have honed in on the sure-fire formula for success. I’m not suggesting it is a magical formula, but rather a highly-strategic road map. Take this and add some elbow grease and personal drive and it is proven to work!
For three Tuesdays in December and two in January, I will be posting these strategic questions for your use. I would like you to provide the answers to ensure your personal development, growth, and success this coming year.
Let’s make 2013 a year of amazing results!


Take time to think these questions through. You will be glad you did!
This week we will start with Question 1.

Question 1: Where are you now?

Situation analysis:

  • What trends and emerging markets do you see as opportunities in your business?
  • In the next 3-6 months, what markets should you focus on?
  • What is a simple strategy for that emerging market? How can you meet a need, want, or desire?
  • What is your greatest personal strength?
  • How can you leverage more of your strengths and translate them into active business?
  • What should you delegate, outsource, or eliminate in 2013?
  • What is the core competency you possess that can be leveraged to meet customer/client needs and ensure your successful year?

Note: All of my experience and reading has revealed to me that less than 5% of entrepreneurs or personal leaders have any clear strategic plan for a coming year. The 5% who do, are radically successful and typically out-perform their previous years!

Join me in the 5%!
When will you start planning? Can you start right now?

Next Tuesday: Question Two!