Leadership Interviews: Building your Network as you Develop your Understanding

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This is the second of three leadership interview assignments for this course. Please review the Protocol for Leadership Interviews before submitting this assignment for instructions, an example interview, and sample questions.

Some goals to keep in mind as you write this assignment:

  • Develop your personal leadership learning goals
  • Develop your leadership career development goals
  • Assess your current network for resources to assist you in your
    growth – who do you know, who needs to know you and who do you need to
  • Identify 3 resources that can help you attain both your focus area goals
  • Engage in the work to keep this network working

Submit Executive summaries in writing along with key learning outcomes

Assignment: Leadership Interviews for Insights – Think Big and Think Connections

You are tasked with interviewing three leaders – one each for three
assignments. The first interview is due in Module 3, the second in
Module 5, and the final one in Module 7. Refer to the instructions,
templates, examples, and tips for success below.


21st century leaders need to be connected with and to a
wide variety of people. They will need a network of people who can help
them think about the world, how they can be better in this world and how
they can bring better ideas to this world.

This is a key aspect of leadership today; leaders are not to be
all-knowing but rather leaders need to know where to go to get
knowledge. Their network is their source, and their net created becomes
purposeful, not just connections accepted on LinkedIn or other social
media site. It must be filled with connections that have meaning. This
means the following:

  • The network connections know who you are. Know what you are up to. Know your goals and aspirations.
  • The network connections respond to your requests to engage.
  • The network connections are comfortable reaching out to you and your response to their requests for engagement.

How does this happen when everyone is working at a speed/pace that leaves little time to breathe let alone do anything extra?

It happens because it is a priority for leadership. Leaders build
habits of connection — they work the net for the net to work. They are
constantly seeking to add and engage people. These become daily habits
for success.

This assignment is intended for you to determine the strength of your net. How much work do you need to do to build a 21st
century network? What can you learn from those around you if you
learned on purpose – and just asked? It does not have to be hard, it
does not have to be extra. Look to make it happen within your normal
interactions – if you are not having normal interactions with the
leaders you want to learn from, you need to change your habits. The work
starts here.


Step 1

Review your network – Does anyone you know work for
an organization in a leadership position? What organization/business is
around you that you can call and interview a senior leader? Think
about your own career – leaders always make time to talk about leaders.
If you are working for an organization, begin with your boss
(politically correct) Your boss can help you identify someone else
internally – try and get to the highest level (it is good networking for
you). Use this assignment to get in front of some career opportunities.

Think about beginning with your boss and working up from
there. It is a good idea to include your boss so they know what you are
doing. It is a great idea to always include your boss because this
level interacts with levels you do not and could hold a key to
introducing you to those you need/want to know.

Step 2

Summarize (executive summary expected) your
interview with your key learnings or tips and recommendations from
today’s leaders. We will label these as Leadership Insights.
Your summary should be in a narrative format and focus on what you
learned about leadership, not just the responses to the questions. Try
and keep your summary to no more than 2 – 3 pages for each interview.

Every interview must include the following 4 questions: (Please
submit these by question responses separately from the summary but in
the same document file. Each executive summary by leadership interview
assignment (1,2,3) – will be summarized from the entire group and posted
for additional learning)

A sample is presented at the end of this section. Where you
can, provide a picture of your interviewed leader (you can ask them for
one or grab their LinkedIn photo).

The 4 questions are:

  1. What advice do you have for a future leader?
  2. What are three key challenges you face as a leader in business today
    and how do you currently maneuver to lessen the impact or to negate the
    impact of these challenges?
  3. What one thing must a leader be able to do to be successful in the next 3 years?
  4. What is one business book you have read this past year and what is one thing you gained from it?

Your Agenda for the Interview: What do you want to Know About Leadership?

This is the essence of your interview. Be prepared with several
questions (a sample list just to give you ideas is below. Feel free to
create your own). Think about why you picked this person, what is it
about where they are/what they do that you want to know more about?
What attributes of leadership do they exemplify and what do you want to
know about this aspect of their talents?

Your summary will not be question and answer – outside of the 4
mandatory questions. Your summary will be just that, give us the focus
and insights of the discussion.

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Suggestions for Success

Connecting with your Interviewee

When you have selected your “interviewee” you will be expected to
contact this person and get on their calendar. All interviews will need
to be conducted by the due dates outlined on Canvas.
In-person interviews are best because relationships are built with an
emotional connection that is best gathered in person, though you can
utilize an online platform (Skype, Zoom, Go to meetings etc.) as an
alternative. If you must conduct the interview via phone,
recognize your engagement efforts for relationship building will need to
be reviewed after your interview and set in motion immediately.

It is not advisable to conduct these interviews via email exchange.
That is just completing an assignment. If you are inclined to do this,
you are not in the leadership seat.

You will be expected to confirm appointment via email.

Sample Confirmation Email

Thank you for the opportunity to explore two concepts that are close
to each other for me: Leadership and Business Results. I am currently
an MBA student studying at Montclair State University.

Our conversation session is scheduled on ______ from___ to ___ (amount
of time). To utilize our time I have prepared some questions. The first
3 are required questions to ask, while those that follow are others we
can explore:

  1. Question 1
  2. Question 2
  3. Question 3
  4. …etc

I look forward to our discussion.

After your interview has concluded, you should follow up with a thank you email.

Sample Thank You email:

Thank you for your conversation. I truly gained valuable insights
from you with respect to running a business, how important it is to have
leadership, and what it means to lead. I truly wish everyone could get
to know you! The best I can do is get everyone to know what you stand
for and how you stand. We will be compiling a complete list of interview
insights gained and will highlight each person interviewed with their
name and company information. If you don’t object, I would like to
include your contact information.

My professor will format them and when I receive the completed
package (total class size X 3 interviews each) I will forward on to you
for your pleasure. I truly can’t wait to see what other points of wisdom
have been shared as well and I know our conversation will be insightful
to all who read it.

Feel free to pass on the insights document to others in your organization and outside.

My professor is always looking for people to come and speak to her
classes. If you would be interested in being part of that group, I would
be happy to pass along your contact information.

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