Who’s Responsible?

There has been much talk in recent months about how there may be better methods for selecting future leaders. There have always been failures, and these days, we are simply more aware of them. Most of all that palaver hinges on making the wrong person responsible.  Here’s a more realistic take on the problem.

It is ultimately the candidate’s problem – or should be in a world right side up. Besides, it take two to tango. Few would-be leaders walk into the arena with a gun to their heads. They worked at getting cast in the role – probably even fibbed a bit. So how did unilateral selection get to be the problem? Here’s how it should be seen in a world right side up.

If the candidate isn’t smart enough to figure out that he or she is likely to be a failure in that role, then that person is not a very viable candidate for that role. That’s most people. If the candidate is smart enough to know that he or she could be a failure in the role, then that person has the primary qualification for the role. If you know why and how you would be likely to fail, then you’re probably smart enough to avoid doing so. So many leaders fail. If they’re smart enough to be leaders, why wouldn’t they know if they are one of those?

It’s mainly a matter of who owns the problem of choosing. If it’s the selection committee or even worse experts, the choice will be wrong more often than it is right. If we play at being grow-ups, and approach it as if it were (it is) the candidate’s problem, then the candidate has to reveal wheter or not she has the “right stuff.” The “right stuff” is knowing oneself well enough to avoid choosing oneself for the role.

Getting the person who ought to own the problem to own the problem is the first step in building a high-performance organization.

How many interviewers do you know who got fired for making such a critical mistake? Where the wrong person owns the problem (whatever it is), the outcome is usually bad.