3 CEO Questions…

ceoAt this stage of my career, I have coached over 30 CEOs of companies of all sizes, industries, cultures, and geographies. Throw in another hundred or so senior executives and they will tell me to a person that they are routinely presented with all kinds of challenges by their direct reports who usually are very seasoned and well-compensated leaders. I coach them to not give answers or offer solutions as the first response. There are three powerful questions they have now molded into their management style that is allowing them to build strong leaders and more importantly, make better decisions.

The first question is: How would you and your team solve this? The response here should be noted by the CEO and is often quite forthcoming. The second question is: How would the best company/competitor solve this? This response should be noted too and the answer is not always forthcoming. This will force folks to think about how differently the same challenge would be addressed by the best-in-class folks. It would be unusual if the answer to the first two questions were the same. The last question is: How would you solve it if I told you that if it was not solved by next week, you would be out of a job? This response is rarely considered and establishes a sense of urgency and empowerment. The ‘white noise’ that clouds the first 2 responses disappears quickly and the answer is usually the right one.
This week, as you face challenges, consider these questions in the order described. You will find both yourself and others coming up with quick and better solutions. This is how successful entrepreneurs and innovators think.
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