Most hiring and promotion decisions prove to be neither dramatically good nor dreadfully bad-most lie someplace in the middle. But in my more than thirty years of helping clients with talent decisions, I have discovered three kinds of people who will keep you up at night-your worst nightmares.
- The smart psychopath. The authors of Snakes in Suits warn about a phenomenon that I have witnessed for years. We’d like to think we could spot a psychopath-someone like Hannibal Lector or Jeffrey Dahlmer. We’d never expect a person like this to apply for a job running a company, but it happens. The modern, fast-paced corporate world, where high risk equals high profits, attracts these people. They may enter as a rising star, the corporate savior, or the change agent, but soon they start abusing the trust of colleagues and manipulating for control. They lack empathy and tend to leave chaos and destruction in their paths. The rules don’t apply to them, so they thumb their noses at them-right up until they go too far and end up in prison or the unemployment line.
- Your second worst nightmare is the idiot with initiative. These people work hard, often on difficult tasks for long hours. They volunteer for the assignments no one else wants and make themselves indispensible in some key area. Often leaders mistakenly value these employees disproportionately and promote them indiscriminately, usually to reward them for hard work. Problems occur when they take the place of savvy decision makers. Instead of placing a clever person in the chair of a key decision maker, leaders too often opt for these well-intended but ill-equipped “good citizens.”
- The average worker. Mediocre workers populate most organizations. They never do anything terrifying or outlandish, but neither do they deliver star performance. Like the idiot with initiative, the average worker takes up a spot in your organization that could be held by a high potential.
Not everyone needs to stay on the fast track to the top, but each person in your organization should represent the gold standard for top performance. Only when you expect excellence-both in behavior and performance-do you position yourself and your organization to outrun the competition.
Career Press Has Just Released Landing in the Executive Chair: How to Excel in the Hot Seat
In today’s fast-paced, unprecedented, and unpredictable economy, executives simply don’t know what to do. Conventional methods-which many never entirely understood in the first place-often won’t work during economic upheaval. Executives, especially CEOs, need something better. They need a guide that identifies the roadblocks and points out the landmines.
In my more than thirty years of working with hundreds of executives, especially CEOs and CFOs, I have observed the critical elements of success, both for the new leader and the one who wants to perform at the next level of success. I wrote the book to help my clients do the following:
- Avoid the pitfalls and identify a clear plan for personal and organizational success is the next step.
- Learn to leverage the first months in a new executive position, that time of transition that promises opportunity and challenge-but also often brings a period of great vulnerability.
- Create a competitive advantage, set the right tone, make effective decisions, keep talent in your doors, and establish credibility-while navigating unfamiliar and turbulent waters.
As organizations expand and grow, the skills that led to success often won’t sustain further development in a more complex, high-stakes environment. Present and future executives need more. They need a roadmap to success. This book provides it, and you can order it at Amazon.com.