August 27, 2015 Anil Saxena

The Most Critical Leadership Development Question

Do you want to create a team of high performers that exceed expectations that are highly motivated?  If the answer is yes (and why wouldn’t it be) there is a simple question that should drive every development conversation a leader has.

“What do you do better than 90% of everyone else?”


This simple question allows for deep learning, insight and creates a path for accelerated development.

• It gives you a window into the mind of your teammates.
◦       What are their motivations?
◦       What makes them passionate?
◦       What are skills they have you didn’t know about?
• It gives your team insight into themselves
◦       What are they honestly really good at doing?
◦       Where could they be focusing their time to help the team out more?


1. Give feedback in the moment, both positive and constructive.
◦ Feedback shouldn’t be held to a weekly one-on-one or a quarterly check in.  It should be given in the moment (or as soon as possible) that it is warranted.
◦ There is an easy 5-step method to deliver positive and constructive feedback.



Provide Context for Feedback

Provide Context for Feedback

Explain specifically what went well

Explain specifically and objectively what went wrong

Focus on their identity and skills

Let them know what they did well

Congratulate and give them the opportunity to explain why they chose to act that way

Ask them what they can do improve? What help do they need from you?

◦ Do this frequently to give you practice
◦ Give just as much, if not more, positive feedback as constructive.

Corporate Leadership Council conducted a study 19,000 employees from 34 companies, in 7 industry groups in 20 countries and asked them what impact certain actions had on their performance.  This was carried out in 2002.

Key findings:

▪ Fair and accurate informal feedback increases performance by 39%!
▪ Formal reviews with emphasis on strengths increases performance by 37%!
2. During regularly scheduled development conversations ask one question to drive the conversation:
“What do you do better than 90% of everyone else?”

Based on the answer you can then help them look for:

• Training courses to deepen their areas of expertise
• Opportunities to leverage their ability as a mentor to other teammates in their expertise
• Projects where s/he can leverage their expertise
That’s it.  Keep it simple and straightforward. What do you think?  Would this work for your organization?
What have you seen as the best process for managing performance and development?
Anil Saxena is the President of Cube 2.14, an organizational development consulting firm that works with clients to increase both customer and employee engagement while decreasing turnover, improving customer retention, and increasing profitability within organizations.

Saxena is a certified High Impact coach and trainer and a Joint Application Design facilitator. He is also certified by both Rush Systems and IBM as a focus group facilitator. He is an inaugural member of Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change program, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.


Cube 2.14 will increase your organizational effectiveness. We specialize in developing innovative, practical solutions to create productive workplaces that exceed goals.