Leadership: learning from other leaders

I have a list of eight core values that help drive and organize my life. Number eight is ‘be a lifetime learner.” In recent years there has been s drive in me to soak up as much knowledge as possible on a variety of subjects. Three subjects that have occupied most of my time are: worship (knowing as much about God as possible) fitness (learning how to live a balanced healthy life) and leadership (learning how to lead others effectively.)

In planning a sabbatical from my current leadership position I decided that some of that time could be spent interview leaders from a variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations. The list of interviewees varies from university presidents to presidents of health care organizations and leaders of publishing companies.

In preparation for the interviews I compiled a list of questions that I could potentially ask. The original list of questions numbered around 50…there was no way I could take that much time of these leaders. The list had to be edited. What you see below are the questions I have used for the last 9 interviews.  (One of the leaders I interviewed  was Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and he was gracious to mention me in his blog and post the edited list of questions. Check out his blog for comments from others and also some additional questions)

The exercise of compiling the questions and conducting the interviews has been one of the best experiences I have ever undertaken.  The insights I have gained are priceless and I can’t wait to share them with you. Keep checking back, the answers are coming soon.
1.    Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe some one who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
2.    What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
3.    As an organization gets larger there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?
4.    How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
5.    Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?
6.    Which is most important to your organization—mission, core values or vision?
7.    How do you or other leaders in your organization communicate the “core values”?
8.    How do you encourage others in your organization to communicate the “core values”?
9.    Do you set aside specific times to cast vision to your employees and other leaders?
10.    How do you ensure the your organization and its activities are aligned with your “core values”?
11.    How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?
12.    When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
13.    What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
14.    What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
15.    What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
16.    What is the one behavior or trait that you have seen derail more leaders’ careers?
17.    Can you explain the impact, if any, that social networking and Web 2.0 has made on your organization or you personally?
18.    What are a few resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
19.    What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
20.    What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

Related Posts:
Questions for Leaders, Great Questions, Too Many to Ask.

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