Thursday, June 12, 2008

15 questions for the presidential candidates

David Gergen and Andy Zelleke wrote an opinion piece in the Boston Globe today, A question of presidential leadership:
"Considering the stakes of this election, shouldn't part of the process of choosing the next president be a 'job interview' of sorts, designed to shed light on the candidates' leadership capacity? Voters deserve a better understanding of who the candidates really are; their aptitude for building teams and coalitions; their judgment and decision-making style; and the special competencies they bring to getting difficult things done.

To that end, the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Ken Blanchard Companies recently convened a diverse group of leaders from all sectors - government, corporate, and nonprofit - as well as academics and others who study leadership. Two hundred participants developed questions for the candidates that would help introduce them more fully as leaders to the American voter."
Since the Globe doesn't link to websites mentioned in it's articles, I went and found the site that has all the questions and lots of background.

The Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard Kennedy School, in association with The Ken Blanchard Companies, developed this site, Take a look.

For those who didn't read the article, here's the list of 15 questions:
Who Are You Really?

1. Values: What are your five core values and how do they shape how you lead?
2. Attributes & Competencies: What are the attributes and competencies you value most in yourself that will serve you well in the White House?
3. Weaknesses & Mistakes: Recent American history has many examples of leaders whose weaknesses brought them down. What are your tendencies that could cause your presidency to fail?
4. People I Have Learned From: What historical figure has exercised leadership in a way that you aspire to? What were their strengths? Tell us about a situation that tested their leadership.
5. Multicultural Experience/World View: What experiences have helped you deeply understand the mindset and values of other cultures?

Who Will Be at The Table With You?

6. Building a Team: Tell us about a high performing team that you’ve built. What made it high-performing?
7. Coalition Building: Can you share some examples of when you were a catalyst who brought groups with polarized opinions together so that all voices were at the table?
8. Increasing Participation: The internet and technology have flattened the political playing field, allowing for more participation and collective decision making. How will you create a more participatory democracy and give people the opportunity to influence decision making?
9. Increasing Participation: Young people have engaged in this election in greater numbers than ever before. Please give us some examples of how you have listened and responded to the next generation in your campaign. How will you keep the next generation engaged?

How Will You Decide?

10. Decision Making Style: The president’s role requires decisiveness. Please share some examples of your ability and willingness to be decisive. Can you tell us about a time when a lack of decisiveness got you into trouble. In retrospect, what would you have done differently?
11. Judgment: Tell us about a time when your judgment was tested in crisis. What do you want us to appreciate about your judgment?

How Will You Act? And What Will You Act On?

12. Leading Change: Can you give us an example of how you have overcome resistance to bring about a needed change?
13. Innovative Thinking: How will you create an environment for innovation within your leadership team?
14. Building the Confidence of Others: What are the first few things you’ll do to raise confidence at home and abroad?
15. Priorities Indicative of Values: The USA ranks 1st in incarceration and 18th in high school graduation. What leadership skills and values do you bring to the challenge of reversing these numbers? Can you point to three things in your past that will help us understand that you care about this challenge?
Good questions.

Let's see if we get answers.


  1. Here are the questions I would add. I posted it on the web site you recommended, but it my be moderated, so I thought I would post it here as well.

    I would ask:
    Can you give me an example of an intractable or chronic problem that you have solved? Explain how you achieved a positive result.

    Explain how you would start this job? Who would you want to meet with first? What would you communicate to the American people, to the World? How do you think you would begin to take charge?

    How do you handle disagreement within a work team? Give an example of how you have been strongly challenged by a subordinate, what did you do? How do you behave when you realize that you have been wrong on an issue?

    Give me an example of a change that you managed when everything went right What happened? What was your role in the success? How did others participate? How did it make you feel? How did others feel?

    Think about the end of an eight year term as President. Looking back, what were your greatest accomplishments? Explain the biggest success, the one you, upon reflection, are most proud of. What, specifically, did you do to make this happen?

  2. did these questions ever get answered?

    please direct me to the answers.

  3. Not that I know of. I'm going to re-post this one...