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Dr Douglas Board

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Leading at the top science, politics and intuition in executive selection Dr Douglas Board www.maslowsattic.com Gresham College, 29 October 2012 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Dr Douglas Board


1
Leading at the top science, politics and
intuition in executive selection
  • Dr Douglas Board www.maslowsattic.com
  • Gresham College, 29 October 2012

2
  • Points of continuity with Dr Liz Mellons talk
  • top vs middle leadership roles (executive
    selection)
  • limitations of behavioural/competency
    perspective
  • power and politics

3
Structure of talk
  • Three selection stories
  • The research crisis
  • (3) The practice crisis
  • (4) A new perspective
  • (5) Practical implications (including making the
    world a better place)

4
Story One
5
Story Two
  • Authors narrative CEO recruitment
    (nationally-known organisation, salary 100k)
  • The first comment, from Curtis, is quick enough.
    I will resign if Xavier is appointed.
    Twenty-eight eyes dart in his direction, to see
    if he is joking. Apparently not. He Xavier is
    a disaster where he is. He has got everything
    wrong in the last few years. He has no idea what
    good is in this field. Simply ask anyone in
    the field .
  • Board member 2 Yes, Xavier is a good
    administrator. But hes got no imagination, no
    charisma. Hes the opposite of the change we need
    here.
  • Board member 3 He hides behind pillars. Behind
    his spectacles. Several board members laugh.

6
Story Two -Opinion karate
  • Authors narrative CEO recruitment
    (nationally-known organisation, salary 100k)
  • The first comment, from Curtis, is quick enough.
    I will resign if Xavier is appointed.
    Twenty-eight eyes dart in his direction, to see
    if he is joking. Apparently not. He Xavier is
    a disaster where he is. He has got everything
    wrong in the last few years. He has no idea what
    good is in this field. Simply ask anyone in
    the field .
  • Board member 2 Yes, Xavier is a good
    administrator. But hes got no imagination, no
    charisma. Hes the opposite of the change we need
    here.
  • Board member 3 He hides behind pillars. Behind
    his spectacles. Several board members laugh.

7
Story Three
  • A Fortune 50 company selects its top management
    tier. Reported by Russell (1990) in the Journal
    of Management, cited in chapter 2 (p. 21) of my
    book

8
Story Three a scientific cathedral
  • A Fortune 50 company selects its top management
    tier. Reported by Russell (1990) in the Journal
    of Management, cited in chapter 2 (p. 21) of my
    book

9
(correcting a modest typographical error in human
understanding)
  • Your attitude determines your altitude

10
From opinion karate to scientific cathedrals to
?
11
(2) The research crisis
  • Neal Schmitt, former President of the Society for
    Industrial and Organizational Psychology,
    surveying the state of personnel selection theory
    and research
  • At senior levels this practice is usually
    called individual assessment. Because this
    selection practice is rarely, if ever, described
    in research reports, we have constructed an ideal
    example of an individual assessment for a
    vice-president of human resources Personnel
    Selection A Theoretical Approach, Schmitt and
    Chan (1998), Sage Thousand Oaks CA, p. 33
  • None of their eleven selection research
    priorities for the future address this gap (p.
    293)

12
Hollenbeck (2009)(1)
  • Valedictory article in Industrial and
    Organizational Psychology 2009 (2) 130-143 after
    a long career as an I-O psychologist and
    executive
  • Our field has stuck with our classical personnel
    selection model, seeking to correlate predictors
    with criteria, hoping for large samples. We do
    this even though it continues to disappoint us in
    terms of research, results, or respect. (p. 138)

13
Hollenbeck (2009) (2)
  • We need to Begin to address the topic. Some
    might say readdress the topic, but at least
    from a research and analysis standpoint, we have
    ignored executive selection. Thornton et al. (in
    press) lament the lack of available research to
    review.
  • Sackett and Lievens (2008) do not even include
    the topic. When queried about this, Sackett
    (personal communication) replied, Our assigned
    task was to select and cite the best of the
    empirical literature since the last Annual Review
    chapter. Theres nothing on executive selection
    because we werent aware of any recent empirical
    work on the topic to cite. (p. 141)
  • Sackett, P and Lievens, F Personnel Selection
    Annual Review of Psychology (2008) 59, 419-450

14
Fletcher (2011)
  • I have to conclude from a recent literature
    search that there is staggeringly little
    occupational psychology research (as opposed to
    opinions) on selection at these senior levels.
  • There are probably many reasons for this not
    least being the sensitivity and confidentiality
    which often surrounds senior appointments, and
    also because we are essentially dealing with a
    one-off exercise each time, with a small number
    of candidates being assessed for a single
    specific position.
  • Assessment and Development Matters 2011 3(4) p. 11

15
(3) The practice crisis
  • Rakesh Khurana (2002) Searching for a Corporate
    Savior The Irrational Quest for Charismatic
    CEOs Princeton University Press Princeton NJ
  • In this study search firms paid 1m neither find
    nor grill the candidates. As for the client
    boards
  • firms interviewing candidates only once
    directors behavior in the interview process is
    characterized by guarded politeness and extensive
    impression management directors also exhibit
    such universally recognized signs of deference as
    downright obsequious behavior Indeed,
    directors generally go into the interview with
    little, if any, preparation, training or strategy
    for questioning candidates. (p. 177)

16
The practice crisis (contd)
  • Joseph Bower (2007) The CEO Within Why Inside
    Outsiders Are the Key to Succession Harvard
    Business School Press
  • Quite typical is a succession process that
    identifies Alex as the best candidate, tests him
    against an outside candidate, finds him wanting
    in some significant way, and yet decides to let
    Alex learn on the job anyway. I call this
    blindfolded parking. You back into the space
    until you hit the car behind you, then you go
    forward until you hit the car in front of you,
    and you repeat the process until youre close
    enough to the curb. (p. 84)
  • My own experience 18 years in executive search
    7,500 interviews 1,000 positions 70 at
    board or SMT level

17
(4) A new perspective
  • Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002) anthropologist and
    sociologist, professor of sociology at the
    Collège de France
  • Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow (1993) Pierre
    Bourdieu has developed one of the most
    analytically powerful and heuristically promising
    approaches to human reality on the current scene.
    As opposed to the other two plausible living
    contenders, Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida,
    Bourdieu has continued and enriched the line of
    thought that runs from Durkheim and Weber through
    Heidegger to Merleau-Ponty and Foucault. Can
    there be a Science of Existential Structure and
    Social Meaning? in Bourdieu Critical
    Perspectives eds Calhoun, LiPuma and Postone
    (1993) Polity Press Cambridge UK (pp. 35-44)

18
Bourdieus logic of practice
  • Bourdieu proposes a grammar of games (from
    rugby to courtly etiquette to language or
    science) with a precise vocabulary habitus,
    illusio, field, misrecognition, symbolic power
  • A simplified presentation a world in which
    meaning-making comes from continual contestation
    between science, politics and intuition
    interpreted as broad impulses (science
    including the impulse to objectify, quantify and
    predict, and intuition interpreted with a
    social dimension). As in the childs game stone,
    paper, scissors, there is no automatic dominance
  • Consider senior selection, and the study of
    politics more generally, in this light.

19
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20
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21
Implications and possibilities?
  • Plausible practical implications for use of time
    and quality of discussion in senior selection
    decision-making, as well as interview inputs
  • Risk appetite strengthening a systematic
    approach to diversity
  • A grown-up view of merit could be positive but
    could be scary, risk of regress rather than
    progress
  • But the research prize might be much bigger
    making a difference to how well we choose leaders
    in all walks of organisational life in 15-20
    years time

22
  • Free or nearly free
  • Do you have to choose a CEO? Gower website
    Chapter 13, field notes for selectors
  • Hoping to get picked as a CEO? FT.com Chapter
    12, field notes for candidates
  • Sample extract Which planet are leaders living
    on? Financial Times, 21 June 2012
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