I don’t do it as often as I should, but one of my favorite tools is asking thought-provoking questions of my clients.

Doing research I ran across a question asked by Intel’s co-founder Andy Grove: “If the current CEO were kicked out of the company, what would the new CEO do?”

I am sure that the correct answer by the new CEO would be a blend of three lists. The first list would contain all the things that the leader should continue doing. The second list, probably longer in length, would be a list of items to start doing.

The third list might actually be pretty short, and it would be the list that the new CEO would create that listed the things that he or she would stop doing.
Peter Drucker was quoted as saying, “Your first and foremost job as a leader is to take charge of your own energy and then help to orchestrate the energy of those around you.”

For this to take place, the leader has to first lose the source of negative energy. This can be accomplished by making two lists. The first is the “stop doing list”, and the second is a “never start” list.

These two tools are so powerful they should become part of the annual planning process for your company and for the management team. Here are some thoughts to help jump start your thinking as you create these lists.

1. Stop tolerating mediocre performance from people that belong on someone else’s payroll.

2. Stop putting off difficult conversations about people.

3. Quit making every decision. If you don’t trust people to make the right decisions for the company, you have another issue to deal with.

4. Stop having meetings without purpose.

5. Stop thinking that all clients are the same; some are more valuable than others.

6. Never start thinking that your company’s current good health will continue without change into the future.

7. Never start thinking that your employees don’t know what is taking place in the company; in some instances they may know more than you do.

8. Stop believing that your managers are managing; some of them aren’t.

9. Never start interfering with policies and procedures you approved to help you run the company better.

10. Never make people decisions based on whether or not you like someone; make decisions about how well or not they are doing the job they are on the payroll to do.

11. Never start thinking your industry has the best way, or only way, to do things.

12. Stop under hiring and over hiring.

13. Never start thinking that your being in the office at your desk is where the business is actually managed because you are too far from the clients to see what is happening.

14. Never start your day without making a short list of results you want to achieve.

15. Stop thinking your current attorney and CPA are the best in their field.

16. Never think for a minute that because you have had a successful business for years suggests you will have one just like it in the future.

17. Stop trying to be perfect and don’t push that belief on others; good enough usually works.

18. Never believe that people don’t want or need feedback.

19. Never believe that a person is costing you money while on your payroll; if it is not an investment in the future of your company, what is it?