Saturday, February 27, 2010

Letter from the Field: Questions for Leadership

Are we asking the right questions of our leaders?? (photo credit: Tim abbott)

One of my Indian buddies emailed me a set of thoughts this morning. Inspired by a post he read on someone's blog, he wondered about how well he knew his leaders. How well we all know our we well we know our own leadership abilities.

His email really made me think. Parts of it proved to be an excellent questionnaire for myself (good prep for a job interview too!). Anyways, here you go...

Ask your Leader this.

Be it your Boss, your MP or you prime Minister... or yourself, if you
are a leader (we all play leader roles to someone or some people at
some or all times)
[from the blog of Lee Iacocca, the "king of straight talk"]
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Demanding Answers
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Presidential race and the remaining
front runners. Last year, Katie Couric asked if we’d come up with some
questions, based on my latest book Where Have All The Leaders Gone?,
to ask the candidates.

Take a look at the following questions. Do you know any of the
candidates’ responses to them?

1. Leaders are not born; they’re made in times of crisis. Name a
crisis that you have faced, and talk about how you demonstrated

2. Name your two primary models for leadership from the past 50 years.
These are the individuals you call to mind when you’re faced with a
tough decision.

3. The ability to collaborate with those who have different ideas and
approaches is a key factor in leadership. Give an example of a time
(professionally or politically) when you have successfully
collaborated with people who have different views.

4. As a businessman I learned that the best way to fully understand
what it means to be responsible is to meet a payroll every week. In
your life, when have you had tangible responsibility for the
livelihoods of others – and what did the experience teach you about

5. Being President is not a one person job. The team is just as
important. Are you prepared to tell voters who will be on your team so
they can make an educated choice? In particular, who are your
candidates for Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and Attorney
General? (If you’re not prepared to name them, can you name
individuals from recent history who have excelled in those positions?)

6. The United States has one of the lowest voter turnout rates among
democratic nations – especially for young single adults. What will you
do to encourage young people to vote and participate in government?

7. A leader inspires others to participate fully in the life of
democracy. The words of JFK – “Ask not what your country can do for
you; ask what you can do for your country” – still resonate. Give a
specific example of what you will ask citizens to do, and what
sacrifices you will ask them to make.

Maybe if these questions are circulated to millions by email (just
like the first chapter of my book), the tough questions will get asked
and the candidates will feel obliged to give the American people an


Made me think. How many of our Indian 'Leaders' in Politics can even
begin to understand these questions - let alone answer them.

But then again, how many of us in the corporate/business world - or
across any field of work for that matter - can answer these questions
about ourselves, or our "leaders"?

I for one, would love to ask these questions to a new brand of leaders
in governance and business shaping india's future...