Many companies have filled their corner offices with mediocre executives. A set of basic practices can help organizations avoid such a crucial mistake.
The CEOs and senior executives of Enron Corp., WorldCom Inc. and other disgraced companies have certainly gotten their fair share of press, but the huge scandal that nobody talks about is the multitude of cases in which top positions are filled with mediocre people. After almost 20 years of experience in helping companies to find and recruit people for senior positions, I am convinced that the problem of poor appointments is serious, pervasive and highly dangerous. (See “About the Research.”) But many firms are either unaware of the problem, slow to react to it or severely hampered by a number of psychological obstacles.
Understanding the Problem
Three factors explain why companies have such trouble making the best people decisions at the top. First, even for organizations that are adept at selecting winners, the deck is still stacked against successfully finding those individuals.