One of the regular features in the Financial Times is an interview with a business leader called Twenty Questions. The hook is that most of the twenty questions are asked in every interview so if you’re a regular reader of the FT (if you’re not, I recommend becoming one), you can see how different CEOs answer the same questions.
Today’s Twenty Questions segment is with the CEO of NCR, Bill Nuti. I’ve known a number of people who have worked at NCR over the years and I’ve heard from them that it’s a pretty tough culture. There was nothing in Bill Nuti’s answers that dissuaded me from that point of view.
I mentioned the interview to my wife this morning (she’s very patient) and that I was thinking about writing a post about how leaders shape the culture of their organizations. She said, “That’s nice. How would you answer those same questions?” I hate it when she comes up with stuff like that. I started answering the questions for her and was a bit embarrassed that I didn’t like a lot of my own answers.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” So, in the spirit of Socratic self discovery, here are the questions from the FT’s Twenty Questions approach that hit home with me. If you answer them honestly, you might come up with an answer to another question, “Would you want to work for you?”
Selected Questions from the Financial Times Twenty Questions Feature
"1. Describe your job in 10 words.
2. What are your three best features?
3. And your three worst?
4. When do you turn off your Blackberry?
5. What are you reading?
6. What is your guilty pleasure?
7. What is the smartest business idea you have ever had?
8. What is the biggest mistake you have ever made in business?
9. Who has been your biggest influence?
10. What is the most treasured possession in your office?
11. What is your Golden Rule?
12. When was the last time you lost your temper at work?
13. If you hadn’t been in business what would you have done?
14. How important is money to you?
15. Has your job made your personal life suffer?”
So, after answering those questions, what do you think? Would you want to work for you? If your answering isn’t a resounding, “Heck yeah!”, what adjustments do you think you should make?
What other questions should leaders be asking themselves to encourage some honest self-examination?