How I would manage the search for our next President of the United States
Let me start by saying clearly that this post is not intended to be political in any way and it is also not to show support for any current candidate, any particular party or any agenda. My intent is to explore what things would look like if we hired our next president of the United States in a manner like we hire presidents of major corporations, universities or another agency. I'll do my best to compare and contrast our current system without passing judgment on anyone in particular.
As a republic, our nation has a long-standing process of electing individuals for the role of president. There are things about our current system I think work very well, and there are parts of the system that I think are very broken. How would it work if we hired someone, or a firm, to manage the process to hire a president versus electing one? It might go something like this (may not be in the exact order of execution).
- Develop the criteria for the role
The president of the United States resembles the role of the CEO in many organizations. Criteria for a capable president might look like this:
- experience leading diverse groups with wide ranging opinions
- openness to hearing and gathering input from a wide variety of sources
- ability to judge the talents of others well and then surround himself/herself with capable leaders to manage key parts of the business
- able to make tough decisions, when they need to be made
- able to set a clear vision and put actions into place to move toward this vision
- Gain input from key stakeholders
Our country has stakeholders across the map and hearing their needs is of great importance.
- determine key unmet needs of the organization
- able to filter wants from needs and capable to prioritize them appropriately
- recognize and appreciate differences that have developed among the stakeholders and willing to listen to all sides of a situation without entering the discussion with a pre-conceived solution
- able to accept and process both praise and negative feedback appropriately
- Identify potential candidates
After completing the first two stages we would move forward to identify potential candidates for the role. No doubt there would be many who would have interest, but we would need to develop a vetting process to clarify appropriate candidates from those who don't have all or most of the key experience, skills and attitudes as well as having the proper motivations for the role.
- advertise the availability of the role in as many venues as possible
- seek referrals from trusted resources who understand the needs of the organization
- develop a search committee of well-respected and selfless leaders who understand what type of candidate would best fit the role
- work with the search committee to narrow the field to a manageable size
- utilize an assessment process that identifies items that are typically "below the surface" such as motivations and behaviors
- conduct a stringent process of interviewing potential candidates who have made it through the vetting process thus far
- attempt to develop a simulation to determine how potential candidates would react to former or potential situations that may occur for the new leader of the organization
- present a top finalist for the search committee to embrace and endorse
While this may seem impractical to many, it also points out how this approach might differ substantially from the process we now employ.
What might you add or remove from the process if you were running the search?
Do you feel this process might provide a better result than the system we have now?