Bigger Jobs and Lower Standards?

March 2, 2012 at 6:22 pm

“Bigger Jobs and Lower Standards” is a sub-heading from a 2002 article published by the National Association of Corporation Directors in their monthly newsletter. The article was written by Dee Soder and discusses the importance of “selection and evaluation of top management in order to avoid leadership lapses and future scandals.” The operative word here is “future” scandals. This article was written in 2002 and 10 years later we are clearly still grappling with lapses and scandals on what some would argue is a too regular basis.

This article points out that “typically CEOs receive far less rigorous screening and evaluation than other senior executives. Ironically, the ‘bigger job’ comes with lower standards of scrutiny.” Three reasons are given for this:

* “directors often hesitate to ask the tough questions or probe as deeply, since the CEO is often a peer.

*there is also a justifiable belief that if someone has led a company for years, he or she has already been ‘checked out.’

* the demand for good candidates often turns the interviewer into a recruiter.”

While the selection and evaluation of CEO’s has certainly evolved and continues to do so, the tendencies above hold as true today as they did 10 or even more years ago. As much as we can mandate and prescribe the process of CEO selection, the ultimate decision boils down to subjective impressions and reactions. And, as such care must be taken to be aware of our human tendencies and employ outside experts and objectivity as much as possible.

All of this holds even truer for the selection and evaluation of board directors (but that is a whole other conversation!)

The full article is attached: NACD_Feature_CEO_Selection_&_Evaluation

I really don’t want to revisit this in another ten years without significant progress!

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