Drafting Executive Leadership?

Leadership Focus

Drafting Executive Leadership?

A recent client to VIM Executive Coaching has turned out to be a pretty incredible football fan. In fact, there is just about nothing he doesn’t know about professional football right down to the “analytics” of what made each draft pick in the recent football draft get chosen when and where he got chosen. It is all pretty complicated stuff. In fact, it boggles the mind.

Our client came to us with a problem that is not all that uncommon in terms of management. Away from his love of football (and professional sports in general), he admitted to us that he should be drafting his team rather than hiring them. He admitted he always seems to hire wrong and he further admitted he is not a very good judge of people who will be a good fit for the organization.

I should also add that he is not as one-dimensional as he might sound. He is active in his community with coaching youth and he frequently helps several elderly neighbors with their painting, lawn cutting and other chores. In other words, he has a good heart. Having a good heart is a treasure that frankly, many executive leaders lack.

Why do you think?

So, I posed to him an initial question. I asked him why he always seems to hire the wrong people, and why he feels he is not a very good judge of character? He admitted that he didn’t think it was appropriate to let emotions get in the way of his decision making. When he adds new people to his finance team, he views them through the lens of the general manager of a sports team. He studies each candidate in terms “of their numbers,” including experience, GPA, coursework, awards and such. Those are all important, I remarked but what of their character, their intangibles, indeed, their very qualities that would make them a desirable part of the team?

His answer to my question was surprising. He said that in his opinion, coaches should not allow their personal feelings to get in the way of hiring decisions. It was one of those “Aha!” moments for him, as I explored how even he as a coach of youth sports brought emotions and empowerment to every child he coached.

“Coaching,” I said, “is about recognizing talent, to be sure, but to leave emotional intelligence and ‘humanity’ out of the equation is a guarantee of being in last place.” I had the audacity to suggest that he should dial it back on his perception of analytics, and re-discover the inner feelings and intangibles in other people. He admitted it might be an interesting approach to at least explore.

Seeing the response, not the reaction

He felt that in his pursuit of employee analytics, he no longer had an idea of how to find some of those intangibles in a prospective employee that might be of value to a team. I asked him if he had ever explored mindfulness meditation. Many VIM Executive Coaching clients routinely practice meditation in an effort to see the world as it really is, not as they would like it to be. In gaining an understanding of how they are responding to the world around them, executives are better able to make decisions based on their being grounded rather than reacting do people who seem to say the right things or have “numbers” that seem to indicate success.

I also pointed out that even in professional sports, analytics will only get a team so far. Many a high-ranking draft selection has “gone bust.” The athlete may have it all on paper but it fails to translate into performance. At the end of the day, a player with inner qualities, almost unmeasured analytically, may certainly outperform the projected superstar.

By being responsive and reflective, the executive leader may well discover hidden gems in good people rather than hoping for analytical luck in failed “not-so-superstars.”


VIM: - noun: lively or energetic spirit; enthusiasm; vitality