What is measured?
The following are typical topics probed by the questionnaire. The precise survey content would be guided by the interview findings, the organization’s strategic plan and what the CEO would like to learn from his or her leadership team.
How is it conducted?
A senior study begins with a series of one-on-one interviews with selected senior leaders to identify the most salient issues of which the CEO and executive team should be aware. The interviews gather thoughts and insights about an array of important issues, including the organization’s vision for the future, the strategic planning process, the organizational structure, whether the organization has an Achilles’ heel, the leadership incentive system, the prevalent leadership style, the organizational culture, etc. The interviews also provide senior leaders with an opportunity to underscore what they believe are the key messages that should be brought to the attention of the CEO and executive team.
The interview results provide the basis for designing the senior leadership questionnaire. The CEO and executive team are briefed on the interview findings, highlighting anonymous examples of what senior leaders think about key issues and providing an objective external perspective on the results. This session provides an opportunity to make a “go/no-go” decision on proceeding with the more quantitative phase of the effort. If the interviews reveal extremely negative areas, it may be advised to postpone or abort the project – i.e., put the questionnaire phase on hold until the most serious issues can be addressed.
Senior Leader Strategic Insight Survey
What is it?
A senior leadership strategic insight survey is the most powerful intelligence-gathering effort that an organization can conduct. It systematically culls the best thoughts and ideas of an organization’s top leaders regarding vital strategic issues, including key organizational strengths, the most urgent competitive threats, critical vulnerabilities, best and worst-case scenarios for the future, the most significant unrealized opportunities and the biggest obstacles to success. It also profiles the predominant leadership style and organizational culture to determine if there are any dynamics that are interfering with the leadership team or the organization maximizing its effectiveness.
Gathering candid information at the highest echelons can be especially challenging. Senior leaders have so much at stake - position, status, money, power - that they are not always forthright in discussions about the most urgent issues and challenges. Dysfunctional dynamics such as company politics, a conflict-averse culture, power struggles or ideological differences also can undermine open and honest debate. Senior studies provide an anonymous opportunity to put everything on the table. No executive team can afford to have an elephant in the room that is being ignored. A senior study opens up candid dialogue about the most critical challenges facing the organization, reinforces a spirit of teamwork and cooperation at the top and better aligns the leadership team around the organization’s strategic direction.