How To Interview Your Prospective Boss for Leadership Potential

By Michelle Malay Carter on February 6, 2010 

What are some of your longer term projects and goals?Let’s face it – your boss can make or break your work experience.? S/he provides you context (aka the big picture), gives you your assignments, provides your resources, integrates your work with your peers, assesses your performance and helps build your skills in your current role.?

Because of this, when you are interviewing for a job you must take as much care to learn about your prospective manager as you do the prospective job.

Here are some quotes from First, Break All the Rules:

“We had discovered that the manager ? not pay, benefits, perks or a charismatic corporate leader ? was the critical player in building a strong workplace. ?The manager was the key.”

“But it is her relationship with her immediate manager that will determine how long she stays and how productive she is while she is there.?

Time Span Again
Just as I suggested you feature time spans on your resume to signal the level of work for which you are capable, you can use time span as a tool for interviewing your prospective boss.

How to Interview Your Prospective Boss
First, think about the length of projects that feel comfortable to you.? Would you feel comfortable accepting an 18 month deliverable?? How about three years?

Once you have a comfort target in mind, ask your prospective manager about his/her work.? Ask about the longer term goals and projects that s/he is working on.? If the work is not of longer time spans than that which you feel comfortable, this can point to disaster!? Either you are not interviewing for the right level role or your manager is not working at a high enough level or both.

The Experience Fallacy
Remember, more years experience does not automatically qualify someone to be a thought leader for you, and you want your manager to be a thought leader!? One of the most basic needs we have from our manager is the ability for him/her to build context for us.? When your manager does not have more raw mental bandwidth than you do, s/he will not provide you satisfying leadership.

I’m OK.? You’re OK.? Let’s fix the system.

Did you ever know?during the interviewing stage?that the hiring manager would not be a leader for you?

Filed Under Employee Engagement, Managerial Leadership

Comments

4 Responses to “How To Interview Your Prospective Boss for Leadership Potential”

  1. Pawel Brodzinski on February 9th, 2010 12:46 pm

    I happened to see warning lights when recruiting guy, then-CEO, tried to get from me declaration that I will embrace strong competition between team members. My answer was I value cooperation over rivalry (because that’s how I work with people), but it later appeared we were incompatible with that person.

    Then I didn’t put much thought about the situation, but now I would re-think joining the company once again. It all yielded less then pleasant results.

    Anyway, my point is it had nothing to do with time span. The problem was a difference in approach to people and in management styles. It soon appeared the guy wasn’t a leader for me, not even close. With my current experience I’d probably know it instantly, but I’m not sure if this would make me to resign. After all I’ve learned there very much.

  2. Twitter Trackbacks for How To Interview Your Prospective Boss for Leadership Potential | Mission Minded Management [missionmindedmanagement.com] on Topsy.com on February 9th, 2010 4:31 pm

    [...] How To Interview Your Prospective Boss for Leadership Potential | Mission Minded Management http://www.missionmindedmanagement.com/how-to-interview-your-prospective-boss-for-leadership-potential – view page – cached Let?s face it – your boss can make or break your work experience. S/he provides you context (aka the big picture), gives you your assignments, provides your resources, integrates your work with your peers, assesses your performance and helps build your skills in your current role. [...]

  3. Michelle Malay Carter on February 9th, 2010 5:25 pm

    Hi Pawel,

    Thank you for stopping by and for your comment. Yes, I agree a basic mismatch in values between your and your boss, particularly if your boss is the CEO who influences the entire culture, will likely make for a friction-filled work experience as well.

    Regards,

    Michelle

  4. Ram Sharma on March 8th, 2011 6:49 am

    It’s best if we gauge as quickly as possible about how competent one’s prospective boss would be by the way they talk. Most importantly, they must possess the qualities of a leader that would eventually change one’s future for the better and take you places you’ve never been. Following a great leader helps us eventually be great leaders too.
    Ram Sharma, School Of Inspired Leadership, Gurgaon, India.

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