Be Ready for These 3 Questions

This past week, I had the chance to work with another group of leadership program participants as they came to the end of a year-long development journey. What a great experience – it’s always rewarding to see people get excited about leadership, and to help them realize their potential as leaders.

One of the staples of a program like this, of course, is a visit from the CEO. Bringing the CEO to the program gives participants a chance to hear from the top leader, ask a lot of questions, etc. I’ve probably seen 25-30 of these interactions now, and what strikes me is the consistency of the questions the CEO gets… in fact, three questions always seem to come up. Because I think there’s a good chance you could be asked these questions, I offer them here to help you prepare in advance…

  1. What keeps you up at night? I’m not sure where this question started, but it is a true standard for Q&A sessions with senior leaders. So, what keeps you up at night? What are you worried about, planning for, asking yourself about? Is it the competition, your products, services, employees, the economy, funding, etc? In a strict sense, hopefully nothing is – a good night’s rest is critically important to your energy levels, etc. But you get the ideas – what’s on your mind?
  2. What has been your defining moment as a leader? What a great question. What is it for you? What’s that crucible that really tells the story for you? Could be a mistake… could be a crisis… could be big bet or a risk that worked out. Think about this one – it will say a lot about what you’ve learned from your leadership journey.
  3. What do you want your legacy to be? Another great question, usually asked of leaders who are nearing or in their “last job.” This question also reveals a lot about you as a leader. What is it for you? What do you want to be remembered for, as a leader?

There you go – three questions to ponder…whether you’re about to go in front of an audience or just want to reflect on your leadership experiences. And since it never hurts to be prepared, I truly hope you will give these some thought if you’re talking leadership with others in your organization… because there’s a very good chance you’ll get asked these exact questions.