Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Those at the Top Perpetuate a Self Serving Myth

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An actor can become governor, can become President, if the right people chose to back him. What experience as an actor even came close to the official set of "job skills," supposedly required for these transitions ? Maybe it would be better to ask who defines these job skills in the first place ? "Oh my, you can't jump out of an airplane with a parachute if you've never done it before."

The reality is that a great many people within an organization probably have the background information, aptitudes and attitudes needed for the top slot. A fair number of those who do, also have the willingness and desire and ability to put in the typically long hours which come with the territory.

So why not select one of these people, who would be happy with a modest salary boost ? Probably because a fair number of them are already identified as being aligned with one clique or another within the organization, or have nerded themselves out of the social pecking order. A second reason, however, is a selection committee too cowardly to take a chance on an "unproven candidate" who might screw up. And then there's the third reason, a mystique promoted by those at the top that only those at the top with experience at being at the top could possibly know how to do the job well. Net result, a ridiculously small pool of "qualified" candidates, a marvelous self fulfilling prophesy that assures a scarcity of "talent" and thus the ridiculous wages.

Hat's off to the CEO class, who know a good thing when they've got it. For the finest example of this, watch the hirings and firings of principals and superintendents in large urban school districts. The rotten ones just keep on bubbling back up elsewhere. You have no idea what a total gem you had in Terry McAteer, and still have with him as a teacher. Step down in salary and status? Unbelievable and most admirable!

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