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How to Evaluate a CEO?
The Top 10 Board and CEO Questions

How to Evaluate a CEO? The Top 10 Board and CEO Questions

The proper evaluation of the CEO and the executive team is critical to the companyís performance. The evaluation framework of the CEO can be summarized into two major areas; business strategy formulation and execution.

According to a best practices study conducted by the International Institute of Management, the CEOís key challenge in formulating and executing the business strategy is not in finding answers to the tough questions, but rather asking the right questions. Asking the wrong questions will result in skewed operational or strategic plans.

IIM developed a list of the top 100 Board and CEO questions called the IIM100 Test. These questions provide a 360 degree view of the business.

IIM100 questions can be used as a self-assessment test, as a planning session tool or as a framework for evaluating potential CEO/CXO candidates for succession planning.

In this article, IIM shares the top 10 questions that every board must ask its CEO and the top 10 questions that every CEO must ask his/her executive team.

The top 10 questions every board must ask its CEO:

  1. Are we in the right business and markets? What are the growth areas to invest in and declining areas to divest?

  2. What are the economic and market research data that support our strategy?

  3. What are our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOTs)?

  4. What are we doing to address each one of the SWOTs?

  5. What are our core competencies? How can we leverage them?

  6. What are the key strategic and operational risks? How do we manage them?

  7. What are our key performance targets?

  8. How do we plan to achieve those targets?

  9. How can we build a sustainable competitive advantage?

  10. How can we improve governance, control and reporting functions?

The top 10 questions every CEO must ask his or her executive team:

  1. Do we have a big growth idea?

  2. Do we have the right growth engine (business model, infrastructure, resources and network)?

  3. Does our operations management efficiently and effectively support our performance targets? How do we know?

  4. Which vendors, partners, clients and employees are delivering the real value? How do we get more out of the rest?

  5. What are the key SWOTs in each function, and how do you manage them?

  6. How can we build a sustainable competitive advantage in each function (Marketing, R&D, SCM, IT, etc)?

  7. What initiatives/programs/projects are needed to execute our strategy? How do we ensure that they are aligned and executed with the right quality, on time and within budget?

  8. What are the key performance targets and incentives for each executive (CMO, CFO, COO, CIO, and CHO)?

  9. Do we have the appropriate organization in place to meet those targets? (IIMís 5D strategy framework: budget, tools, products, processes and people)?

  10. How can we communicate our plans better to our stakeholders in order to win their support and achieve our goals?


If the CEO and the executive team are not able to answer the above questions,
it is an indication that the team suffers from management blind spots


Every CEO/CXO must be able to provide the answers to the preceding questions, readily, clearly, and precisely. The executive team members must be able to provide qualitative and quantitative answers.

IIM developed strategic executive retreat and coaching programs to help the CEOs and their executives in answering these questions. The goal of the strategic retreat programs is to provide cross-functional collaboration to ensure a 360 degree business view and formulate comprehensive executive action plan.

The strategic retreat sessions are facilitated by executive leadership and strategy experts. The role of the experts is to facilitate the planning sessions and provide an external point of view to objectively validate the answers to each question. The strategic planning program can be followed by custom corporate action-learning and support programs to help the management teams in executing and aligning the formulated strategies.

About the Author

Med Jones is the president of the International Institute of Management - A best practices research and education institute. IIM provides CEO and executive support services, strategic planning retreats and custom corporate training courses for the global Fortune 1000 companies and governments. To learn more you can visit


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