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Make senior execs think with these 26 questions

 In Message creation

People will make judgements about you by the quality of the questions you ask. I coach my clients to ask senior executives, tough thought-provoking questions.Verdict Is In Newspaper Headline Answer Judgment Announced

By asking thought-provoking questions of senior people, (to be clear, questions you really care about and want to know the answers to) you mark yourself as someone to trust, and as someone who is worth listening to.

If you make a senior executive think – through a question – you are more valuable than people who ask general, banal questions.

So that you can be ready to ask a question when the opportunity arises, I advise my clients to store their questions for executives in their smart phone for ready recall.

Below is my list of questions I’ve logged in my iPhone. Review the list, choose and adapt the questions that resonate with you, and then trial the questions in your interactions:

 Sample Questions to ask CEOs/Senior Executives

  1. How has your leadership style evolved over your career?
  2. What’s unusual or different about how you run your meetings with your executive teams?
  3. How would you retrench someone with dignity? (someone who has to be let go through no fault of their own)
  4. What’s the first job of a leader in your view?
  5. Excuse my temerity here – where you need to grow? (The reason I ask this question, is that if I know where you need to grow, that might be a potential growth area for me at some point).
  6. Dan Sullivan, CEO of Strategic Coach, maintains the first job of an entrepreneur is to protect his/her confidence – your take on that?
  7. What % of your strengths, capabilities, resources are being exploited in your current role?
  8. When you interview people, what’s would be one of your best questions?
  9. What are some leadership lessons for you?
  10. Over the years, have you gotten feedback from your direct reports that led to some adjustments in how you manage and lead?
  11. What aspect of leadership do you like most?
  12. If you wrote a book about leadership, what would be its title, sub title?
  13. Are you having fun as a leader?
  14. 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?
  15. Leading leadership authors Kouzes and Posner’r research shows that the top four characteristics of admired leaders are: Honest; Forward-looking; Inspiring; Competent. Do you agree, disagree; what’s your view?
  16. Nobel prize winner Albert Schweitzer said in the 1950s said the problem with men, is that ‘they don’t think’. Your view?
  17. With # 16 in mind, would you agree with the following statement. ‘You don’t learn from your experiences. You learn from intelligent reflection on your experience.”
  18. At a recent CEO Institute meeting, a big issue that came up for the CEOs was: ‘How to maintain my energy’ How do you maintain yours?
  19. What things do you do to spur innovation?
  20. Tell me about your approach to leadership.
  21. How do you form an emotional relationship with your customers and other stakeholders?
  22. How did you background as a x, help you as a CEO?
  23. How do you know your employees trust you?
  24. What have you done, that you’re really proud of
  25. The Chief Executive of Bloomingdales in NYC in an October 2013 interview said, all anyone you lead is going to remember is: a. Did they give me an opportunity to be more than I thought I could be b. Did they give me a sense of recognition, a sense of belonging and that my work there made a difference.- your take on this?
  26. Who’s been an inspiration in your life?

Your CALL to action /HOW to apply for this post: Review the above list and choose, adapt three to five questions that resonate with you. Insert them in your smart phone and in the next seven days in an interaction ask a senior executive one of the questions.


As the Australian Open tennis tournament is coming up, check out this Daily Telegraph article where I share how Aussie Sam Stosur can banish her woes at the tournament

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