The Most Important Question in Leadership

And when you should be asking it.

Billy Frazier

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Credit: Pexels

A few months ago, I received one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever gotten, and (gasp!) it was from my employer.¹

I became a people leader.

As someone who cares more about people than anything else in my career, this meant the world to me. After all, I’ve read about leadership, written about leadership, and I’ve coached people for over a decade, just without the official title.

Now that I have the title, this means I’m accountable for my first official direct report.

As much as I hate the label “direct report,” I couldn’t be more excited about this professional relationship. After all, this isn’t your average managing relationship — we’re talking about “people leadership” here.

What exactly is the difference?

Well, since Slalom has a habit of hiring high performers, there tends to be very little management of actual work. Most of our consultants self-manage their own workload which means we get to have more nuanced conversations around opportunities and growing edges.

In other words, people leadership is less managing and more coaching. We get to connect with our people and learn more about what makes them tick — their hopes, goals, and what type of opportunities they want to create for their own career.

In order to help prepare us for people leadership, our local market started to offer “people leader bootcamps” and I recently finished one of our cohorts.

Despite what it sounds like, these sessions don’t consist of someone simply regurgitating the same leadership insights from the likes of Brené Brown and Simon Sinek.

Instead, they look a lot like the other learning experiences we tend to have at Slalom:

  • Invite a bunch of smart people around the same table
  • Pose thought-provoking questions that challenge us to think critically
  • Facilitate the co-creation of ideas, solutions, and next steps

After coming together for three hours each Friday for a month, we recently wrapped our time together and I couldn’t feel more excited to apply what I’ve…

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Billy Frazier

Senior experience designer, writer, and leader who’s fumbling forward through a creative career while helping others do the same.