Make yourself memorable to senior execs with these 19 questions

 In Message creation

When you have a short slice of face to face time with a senior executive to tap their wisdom consider what questions you would ask them? Last week I shared how to pitch a 20 minute meeting. When you get a meeting (my hit rate for getting a meeting with last week’s pitch is between 15-20%) below are steps and questions you can ask in the meeting.

a. Overall before the meeting do your research  on the person. For example, view their LinkedIn profile, do an advanced Google ‘news’ search on the person. This search can reveal media articles in which the person has been mentioned. Ask colleagues and other people you know for any background information on the person.

b. Aim to come up with a referral, piece of information, resource or other ‘gift’ that you believe can help the person in their work, and that you can give to them at the meeting.

c. As you open the meeting project energy and certainty through your voice, face and body.

d. Below is a list of potential questions you can ask the person. Select/adapt the questions that seem best to you. Select the top three to five questions you’d want to ask in the meeting.

e. Make sure to end the meeting on time and ask for permission to intermittently contact the person in the future for further advice.


19 Questions to ask CEOs (in no particular order)

·         What’s the first job of a leader in your view?

·         Excuse my temerity here: where you need to grow? (why I ask that is because if I know where you need to grow, being at your level, that might be a future goal for me at some point).

·         Dan Sullivan CEO of Strategic Coach said the first job of an entrepreneur is to protect his/her confidence – your take on that?

·         What percentage of your strengths, capabilities, resources are being exploited in your current role?

·         When you interview people, what’s would be one of your best questions?

·         What are some leadership lessons for you?

·         Over the years, have you gotten feedback from your direct reports that led to some adjustments in how you manage and lead?

·         What aspect of leadership do you like most?

·         If you wrote a book about leadership, what would be its title, sub title?

·         Are you having fun as a leader?

·         What behaviour or attitude have you used throughout your career that’s  paid off for you, and because it’s paid off for you, you continue to use it today?

·         Leading leadership authors Kouzes and Posner’r research shows that the top four characteristics of admired leaders are: Honest; Forward-looking; Inspiring; Competent. Tell me what’s your view on what makes for an inspiring leader?

·         Nobel prize winner Albert Schweitzer said in the 1950s said the problem with men, is that ‘they don’t think’. What are your thoughts on that statement?

·         At CEO Institute meeting Sydney, Australia in January 2013, a big issue that came up for the CEOs was ‘how to maintain my energy’. How do you maintain your energy?

·         What things do you do to spur innovation?

·         How has your leadership style evolved over your career?

·         What’s unusual or different about how you run your meetings with your executive teams?

·         How do you retrench someone with dignity?

·         (If the person has worked with you in the past you can also ask this question): Knowing my work can you give me feedback on where you think I need to grow as a leader?

The ‘how to apply’ for this post: For an upcoming senior executive meeting adapt the above suggestions and questions in your planning for the meeting.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Don Greenamyer

    Good info Michael. I have only one small suggestion: change the ‘fun’ question to “What’s fun about being a leader?”

  • Kent

    Last couple of weeks have been very on target for work that I am doing now thank you for these.

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