Power Questions for Executives
Don’t ever ask this “power question” to an executive: what keeps you up at night?
It is not a power question. Quite the contrary.
Fred, the chief executive for North America of a large multi-national company, was very clear and direct. In an interview described in the book, Power Questions, by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas, Fred made some excellent points about why this question can result in you being escorted out of the door.
The bottom line: it shows that you didn’t do your homework. You could come across as not knowing enough about the executive’s business to ask informed questions that delve into specific issues they are facing.
The right power questions can show off what you know. They can also help build trust.
Instead of asking something cliche, do your homework and ask timely questions about topics they are dealing with. Some examples of intelligent power questions for executives:
- How is social media affecting your clients’ decision making process about buying your products?
- How do you see the economic crisis in Europe affecting your ability to export?
- What is your strategy to offset market share erosion from lower-priced competitors?
Each of these power questions for executives shows that you are aware of an issue that they are facing. Ask them to your boss, his/her boss, even the company president. The smartest senior executives will pick you out from the crowd as someone to watch and possibly nurture into a leadership role.