Prevailing theme in most of publications today point out to lack of proper values as one of the reasons for the predicament we find ourselves today. Erosion or lack of values on part of various politicians or financial gurus has forced us all to have to deal with consequences. It seems that all of a sudden we appreciate those values more, proof of that can be found for example in the following HBR article here as “…self-awareness, intrinsic motivation, empathy and social relationships”, where this list builds (in addition to IQ) the EQ part of the future CEO. I am sure though that we have to look for those in any middle manager or even worker, as those are not subjects you can learn at schools. You have them or you don’t. As a side note – funny enough this list does not have honesty in it.
If then a candidate to CEO should show, in between others, “character, values and integrity”, be “inspiring, courageous and compassionate”, have “productive relationships with colleagues, partners, and other external stakeholders” (following the same article) then we can easily presume that managers or workers should have them as those are true internal candidates for directors and then CEOs. Consequently, the more of people are having those in your organisation, the better.
This conclusion is also confirmed by a book by Jim Collins “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t”. One of the advice listed there, which by the way I find to be one of the most important, is to “… get the right people on the bus”.
At this point is where I think the problem starts. Should your organisation be lucky enough to have CEO showing values listed above, he should, in order to bring your organisation to greatness, surround himself with people of similar values by getting them on the bus. Of course before he will be able to do that, he needs to get the wrong people off the same bus. That change of personnel is, more often than not, vital for the organisational survival or for it to start making way toward prosperity or profitability; meaning that the quicker it is done, the better for all concerned. Unfortunately, the labour laws in Europe don’t list “wrong set of values” as a good enough reason for termination of employment. If the worker (manager, director, whoever) is not doing anything considered on paper as wrong, it is very difficult to get rid of him/her. Of course there are legal ways of firing such people – those ways though take time and in most cases are heavily political.
Notice one more thing: people like to surround themselves with their own kind. Hence good CEO (not only as a businessman, but also as a person) will want to surround himself with good people. Bad managers choose the same “crooks” as they are as their companions, maybe because she can understand them (and relate to them, trust them) better. That also means that a newly imported CEO will not only have to fight lengthy battles with labour laws, but also with entrenched political fractions at his new home. Unfortunately, many such CEOs lose those fights. Consequently, we do as well – one of the signs that we do is the fact that we have to import a CEO from outside. In addition to all the excuses, having to do so means for organisation that there is no one inside worthy the job.
Today there are psychological tests and other tools available to all HR managers out there, maybe a solution lies not only in mentioning good values in all publications, but also in making them truly vital part of any employment process. I am all for it, even though surely European labour laws are not the only source of our problems.