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Leadership Interview Analysis Assignment


Due June 20th 2015


Your task in this assignment is to analyze a leader by first conducting an interview with a leader of your choosing and then summarizing the insights into a package that weaves together key themes/ideas, etc. (see below). Importantly, also be sure to bring into your analysis at least two ideas/theories/topics from the leadership material covered in class. (For example, you might talk about the ways that your interviewee was impacted as a leader by observing a fantastic other leader – who happened to be transformational. It’s not likely that the interviewee will use the word transformational – but if it fits, then use that concept and discuss it.)


In other words, I don’t want you to provide a transcript of the interview (no!!)…this is an analysis based on your interview of this individual.


Your analysis should be somewhere between 4-6 pages and written as a paper (I don’t care about using a particular formatting style. But please use 12-point font, double-spaced. Use of headings or any other stylistic/formatting devices that help convey your ideas is fine and encouraged).  


Who You Should Pick: It is better to pick (all else equal) an insightful leader as opposed to one who is not likely to be introspective and be able to reflect on their experiences. There are many people who cannot reflect very well on their experiences…I’ve seen it many times. ;)  So, if you have a choice…try to pick someone who is more likely to be self-insightful. You may not know this ahead of time…but sometimes you can have an idea about this. And if the leader you choose is not “giving you much to work with” in your interview – it will just make the task of your write-up a little more difficult.


The particular position of the leader is not important. And leadership does not require holding any particular position!! Many leaders are “informal” leaders – and that is completely fine for this assignment. Pick someone who you find interesting and have access to. But you may want to be strategic about it – and interview someone who you might not otherwise have a chance to speak to by asking them for help with a “class assignment”.  For example, is there a VP of HR who you’ve been trying to find an “angle” to speak to? Or is there a company or CEO who you’d love to get connected to? You should at least consider the possibility of using this assignment strategically to build or solidify a piece of your network. J


It is important to remember that it is not about picking a “great” leader. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.


The topics you might cover include (some of these might be headings or topics covered in your paper):


  • Description of current leadership position(s)

  • Significant experiences affecting his/her leadership

  • Key leadership styles/behaviors

  • Tie-ins to ideas/topics covered in the course

  • Recurring Themes

  • Future developmental goals that they are trying to work on

  • Specific challenges/difficulties for this individual – this may be things that they say but it also may be things that you infer or glean from your interview and analysis.

  • What are the things that make them effective and ineffective?

  • Final thoughts


What are they really good at? What are they not so good at? Why? Do they recognize these strengths and weaknesses? Who do they have as their role models in leadership? Why?  What was the hardest moment for them as a leader?


Let me know your questions on this assignment as they come up. It’s better to clarify with me than to wonder. 


To get you started in preparing for your interview…. here are some sample questions that you should ask your chosen leader…


  • Tell me about your position?

  • What does the term leadership mean to you? (this is really a great question… you can see how they think). You may want to ask some follow-ups on this too for more clarification).

  • What are the most important things that you do as a leader in your job?

  • What are the mistakes that you really try to avoid when leading?

  • Are you building leaders underneath you?  How?  If not, why not?

  • What do you know now that you WISH you would have known 5 or 10 years ago?

  • If you could change one behavior that would make you a more effective leader, what would it be?

  • In your experiences, what are the most common reasons or ways that leaders fail to be effective?

  • We’re all affected by our previous experiences. What are some of the critical moments that have shaped the way you think about leadership? How did they change the way you think about leadership?

  • What is the hardest piece of feedback you’ve ever received as a leader?

  • Who do you look up to as a leader? Why?

  • Try to avoid questions that have a yes/no response to them.


Feel free to use many other questions, and see where the interview takes you…make up your own questions, be creative, and think on the fly…BUT, at the same time any interview is far more effective when you plan a whole set of “good” questions ahead of time. Some of your questions will obviously depend on the context of who you’re interviewing, etc.


Remember that what you’ll be producing is not an interview transcript. The interview is just a tool to help you do your analysis.



This assignment will be graded out of 50 possible points.  


    • 30 points will be awarded for content --- digging for useful information, providing a little information about the job and context that this leader operates in, hitting on many of the themes/headings outlined in the instruction, insightful analysis, not getting focused on irrelevant information/questions/topics.

    • 10 points will be awarded for appropriate and effective integration of course material/ideas/theories etc. (You should discuss at least two of these in your paper)

    • 10 points will be awarded for style and clarity. This paper should be about 4-6 pages, typed, double-spaced. There are no specific formatting styles required for this paper, but you should use headings as appropriate --- so that it's not just one long write-up. And using headings also forces you to focus and encapsulate ideas.



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