Monday, March 5, 2007

Leadership + Competency + Situation = Right Person

Recognizing It Takes The Right Person With The Right Skills For The Right Situation

By David Miranda

We have recently witnessed a rash of senior level revolving doors where high profile leaders were unceremoniously shown the door because of poor performance. Examples from both the private and public sectors include Carly Fiorina of HP, Bob Nardelli of Home Depot, Paul Pressler of The Gap, Kevin Rollins of Dell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey. By anyone's standards, each of these individuals were considered highly competent individuals, all with impressive bios. In 20/20 hindsight, they were not the right person for the right situations. Resumes and past performance were not indicators of future success in their new roles.

Although these high profile individuals get the most attention, appointing the wrong people with the right resumes without considering their competence and leadership to handle the situation at hand is pandemic in both the public and private sectors at all levels.

The common denominator of the people mentioned above was the inability to adapt to a new set of challenges. Each relied on people and methods from their previous experiences, i.e. "If it worked there and then, it will work here and now." They created an incestual, in-bred environment while their competitors found new and innovative solutions in a dynamically changing environment. Competent? Yes. Leaders? Yes. Situationally acute? No.

History has proven the point that it takes the right person at the right time doing the right things. Abraham Lincoln was the right person to lead the country during the Civil War. Martin Luther King Jr. was the right person to lead the Civil Rights Movement. Nelson Mandela was the right person to lead his country out of apartheid. Steve Jobs was the right person to reinvigorate Apple. Lee Iaccoca was the right person to lead the turnaround of Chrysler.

The common denominator of these individuals was and is their ability to recognize their respective challenges and apply their will, energy, and persuasive skills to impart dramatic and positive change to their constituents and to the world at large.

Whether you are selecting people for your small business or large multi-national, seek the best person who is best suited for the situation at hand. Look at the intangibles the person can bring to bear. As someone once said, leaders are born, not made. Real leaders have an innate ability to adapt and adjust to challenging situations. So it is important to get it right.

The right person = leadership + competence + situation.