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Three truths about choosing the right leader Add to ...

The following excerpt is from the book You Need a Leader, Now What: How to Choose the Best Person for your Organization by Jim Citrin & Julie Daum

ESSENTIAL TRUTH #1: IT’S NOT ABOUT FINDING A “GREAT” INDIVIDUAL; IT’S ABOUT SOLVING AN INTRICATE AND DYNAMIC JIGSAW PUZZLE

When you’re selecting someone to take on a key leadership position or making any important people decision, rather than thinking about it as “filling a hole,” which is a static concept with a singular need and individual solution, recognize that you’re hiring that person into a system, a vibrant and dynamic puzzle. No one works in a vacuum. The best business leaders have great teams and throughout their careers have generated strong followership. In today’s world of information transparency, knowledge and attitudes also spread immediately so an organization is more likely to embrace or reject someone in a new position much more rapidly than in the past. …

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ESSENTIAL TRUTH #2: ONCE YOU HAVE DIAGNOSED THE NEED, THEN YOU CA N GET THE VERY BEST PERSON

Once you accurately diagnose what is needed to solve the organizational puzzle, then you actually have to identify, choose, and attract the very best person to fit into this situation. Some- times the best person for the job may have actually less experience than others. Yet, as we illustrate in the case of appointing a first-timer at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, there are conditions when this is the right decision.

When deciding on the best person for a key role, you are likely to be swayed by long-held assumptions about what makes the right choice. In fact, this so-called conventional wisdom frequently influences hiring managers and boards of directors. Just as important as helping you understand what to bring into your people leadership decisions, we will also shed light on those factors that turn out to be unimportant at best, misdirected at worst, in predicting performance. These “red herrings” have to do with commonly held but often misplaced notions about hiring people of a particular age, set of experience, or ethnicity.

ESSENTIAL TRUTH #3: EVEN THE RIGHT CHOICE CAN GO WRONG WITHOUT THE RIGHT PROCESS

Everyone knows that process is as boring as it is important, and yet boards of directors, trustees, search committees, and hiring managers that have their acts together and follow the right process can become magnets for talent. Even an organization in trouble can attract an A-player into a top leadership post. The key is projecting a realistic assessment of the situation, having the right aspirations, and ensuring a unified commitment and communication of those aspirations, evidenced by the alignment of key constituencies behind the person hired. Conversely, even a great business or institution can repel top talent if the hiring team is dysfunctional or the hiring process is flawed. It is therefore essential to follow the right process in order to get the leadership selection right.

From the book: You Need a Leader, Now What: How to Choose the Best Person for your Organization by Jim Citrin & Julie Daum. Copyright 2011 by Esaress Holding, Ltd. Published by arrangement with Crown Business, a division of Randomhouse, Inc.

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