Questions To Ask Yourself Before Giving A Leadership Talk
Updated: Oct 6, 2019
Have you ever been to one of those conversations with a top executive, who, when asked to reflect back on his or her career, tells the audience about how working really hard got them to where they are today?
Hard work is important but it's not very inspiring.
Why? Because bragging about hard work doesn't really help in visualizing the next steps in one's career growth. Moreover, it can make one sound elitist because it prompts the audience to wonder about all those other people who are also hard workers but didn't necessarily reach top roles.
If you want to give an inspiring talk that will leave your audience with food for thought, share stories about crossroads in your life and career, highlighting the challenges you faced and what you have learned along the way. Here are some questions for reflection to get you started:
1. Have you taken any big leaps in your career (taking on a completely new role, managing a much bigger team of people and/or large budget, taking an assignment abroad)? How did you go about getting these opportunities?
2. Has anyone inspired or mentored you along the way? What sort of impact did they have on your career growth? What did they do to support your career?
3. Have you ever decided to walk away from an opportunity? Why? What did you learn from it? Or, alternatively: have you ever taken a risky career decision that really paid off? How did you decide on taking that risk?
4. Have you ever had a major career setback? How did you recover? What did you learn from it?
5. "What got you here won't get you there." What were some of the critical moments in your career when you needed to adapt and acquire new skills in order to be successful at the next level?
6. How do you manage assertiveness with being someone who is liked by subordinates? (this is an especially critical double bind for women leaders)
7. Do you ever experience the imposter syndrome? How have you managed it?
8. [If relevant] How did becoming a parent affect your leadership style?
9. [Especially for women leaders] What are some of your proudest achievements?
10. What is next for you in terms of your professional or personal growth?
You don't need to have perfect answers but thinking through the above questions will help you connect with your audience on a deeper level by sharing insights that are relevant to their own life and career decisions.
This article was originally published in my column in Forbes Careers.