Hiring Idiots to the Executive Suite!

January 13, 2024
2 mins read

By Francis Wade

Sunday, September 23, 2012.

worldwide often have great difficulty in making the transition from ambitious
up-and-comers to successful leaders, especially as it pertains to the people
they hire.

They often have no idea why they find themselves being the
hardest working, smartest people in the room, and what they don’t know is that
they have surrounded themselves with mediocrity. They have unwittingly become
the chief crab in the barrel.

Understand their dilemma. In many Jamaican companies, they got
to the top by wanting the leadership role badly enough to make big personal
sacrifices, and also by competing effectively with others with similar
ambitions. Some are competitive to a fault, and even buy the best car, build
the biggest house and marry the most attractive spouse so that they can claim
to have ‘won’.

The top job is perhaps the biggest prize of all.

The problem is that most are unaware that this competitive
streak that got them to the top becomes a fault once they have arrived –
especially when they continue to compete with their employees. They become like
parents who must always be better than their children, and try to beat them at
every turn, instead of focusing on their development.


An executive must, for the sake of the company, switch gears and
stop competing. When they don’t, here’s what happens:

1. They hire idiots:

Weak executives can sniff out top talent, not in order to
promote it, but in order to size it up and defeat it.

Their competitive instincts kick in, as the potential hire shows
that he/she is smarter, more knowledgeable, possesses greater energy and exudes
brighter charisma. Instead of being hungry for a new, potential contribution to
the company, weak executives get scared at the possible downside if their

position of power is threatened.

People might make direct comparisons after all, so they protect
their egos and their turf by hiring others that they can easily manipulate – a
relative idiot.

2. They have no succession plans:

Many of our executives operate like corporate immortals, with no
thought given as to what needs to happen when they eventually leave.

They rightly complain that they don’t have the talent inside the
company to take the top spot, but they don’t own up to the fact that they
simply aren’t hiring the kind of talent that can one day run a company.

They fail to see that they do the company a disservice, and
endanger the well-being of all stakeholders by not thinking far enough in
advance, to a time when they will no longer be around.

3. They neglect training and development:

To add insult to injury, weak executives often don’t invest in
their people. Non-existent performance reviews are just a start.

In spite of the fact that here in 2012 there is an abundance of
training available at all price points, they also don’t push their managers to
get the development they need. What’s more important to them is keeping
managers busy; too busy, in fact, to develop the skills they need to advance
their careers.

4. They put talent down:

When new stars begin to rise in the company, weak executives
move to put them down. They undermine and even abuse new talent, arguing that
‘it’s the way I learned’ and that ‘this will toughen them up’.

In a recent study in the United States, 85 per cent of
physicians in training reported that they had experienced verbal, emotional or
physical abuse at the hands of senior doctors.

Something similar often happens in Jamaican companies, in which
a ripple effect results in managers putting down front-line staff, who, in
turn, put down customers.


For the most part, executives can’t be trusted to read an
article like this one and change their own behaviour.

Those who are serious will seek expert help outside of their circle
of influence, so that they can begin to see themselves with fresh eyes.

Once a new point of view is adopted, then it’s not hard to
figure out what to do next, but here’s a hint: it involves asking the best
talent what they really and truly think about the opportunities presented so
far for their career development.

Francis Wade is president of Framework
Consulting.  He blogs at http://blog.fwconsulting.com/. Send feedback to columns@fwconsulting.com

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