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Candid Answers to Tough Leadership Questions: An Interview

Last spring, Jim Bradford, Dean of Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, interviewed me on my leadership philosophy and practice. He asked some tough questions. I tried to be as candid as I could be.

I intended to share the video here on my blog a few months ago, but it got lost in the shuffle. However, I thought about it today and thought you might enjoy seeing it.

This was filmed before a live audience of students and faculty on April 26, 2010 at Owen for a program called “Inside the C-Suite.” (“C-Suite” means Corporate Suite.) This is me, live, and unscripted—for better or for worse.

Dean Bradford is really the star of the show. He asked me a series of great questions. In this interview we discuss:

  • What I learned from a personal business failure.
  • Why growth can sometimes be your undoing.
  • How we define our business at Thomas Nelson.
  • How the recession has affected the book publishing business.
  • Why you must run a big organization like a small one—in order to survive.
  • The biggest issues I am facing as a leader. What keeps me up at night.
  • How Web 2.0 has changed the expectations of younger employees in the workforce.
  • How I have personally struggled to achieve work/life balance.
  • A situation where I had to take a difficult ethical stand that almost cost me my job.
  • How social media fits into my role as a CEO and why I think it is critical to my company’s success.
  • Why corporations should embrace social media as something that furthers corporate transparency and accountability.
  • Why I believe in executive coaching and have employed a coach for years.
  • The practical value of humility in leadership.
  • How I have learned to challenge the status quo.
  • Why you must go first as the leader and walk your talk.
  • The importance of intentional living and leadership.
  • How do I stay focused on my most important priorities.
  • My favorite leadership book.
  • My least favorite leadership buzzword.
  • My best advice to new leaders.

Vanderbilt is doing a great job with its students, especially in the business school. I have the distinct privilege of lecturing there two or three times a year. If you are thinking about getting an Executive MBA, I heartily recommend their program.

Question: What do you wish Dean Bradford would have asked me?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use and believe will add value to our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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