Great questions senior execs can ask to understand what’s going on

 In Message creation

“Tell me one thing you really like about the organization, and one thing that frustrates you about the company?”

Frustrated stressed business man in an office
“Tell me what you do here, that’s not in your job description, that you think is really critical?”


“Tell me something you think I don’t know, that you think I should know, that is important?”

Adam Bryant writes a column for the New York Times entitled The Corner Office. In the column Bryant interviews CEOs about how they lead.

The above questions were shared in Bryant’s interviews – and are apt for CEOs/senior executives to ask in one-on-one interactions with team members.

In addition to the above questions, Robert Townsend and Warren Bennis, in their book Reinventing Leadership, and Ben Horowitz in his book, The Hard thing about hard things, suggest the following questions that CEOs can ask their one-on-ones to get a fuller picture of their operation. Namely,

‘What made you mad today?’; ‘What took too long?’; ‘What was the cause of complaints today?’; ‘What was wasted?’

‘What job took too many people?’; ‘What job involved too many actions?’; ‘What was misunderstood today?’

‘If we could improve in any way, how would we do it?’; What’s the number- one problem with our organisation?’; ‘What’s not fun about working here?’

Who is really kicking ass in the company?’; ‘Who do you admire?’; ”If you were me, what changes would you make?’; What don’t you like about the product?’

What’s the biggest opportunity that we’re missing out on?’; What are we not doing that we should be doing?;’ ‘Are you happy working here?’

‘Tell me something I don’t want to hear – it’s ok to give me bad news?’

Of course, to get truthful answers to these questions, people have to believe you want to hear what they have to say, and trust that you’re not going to punish them for speaking truthfully.

Your CALL to action/HOW to apply for this post: Reflect on the above questions and consider ones that you could use/adapt to ask in one-on-ones.

Check out this post entitled, ‘So much of leadership is in their eyes’ (NB. the clip mentioned in the post is not available).

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