Be Irrational When Choosing a Leader

Choosing the right person to lead typically receives careful attention, assessment and analysis; and for good reasons. Yet, if we become too logical in selecting leaders we risk ignoring the Achilles Heel of hiring...a counterproductive vulnerable spot in the leadership staffing process.  

Classic logical/left brain executive selection methods are organized around examining a prospect's key credentials, employing a presumably rational hiring process. If hiring parties apply such presumably objective approaches to their selection processes, how will an irrational approach positively contribute to better decision making?

Credentials and career history far too often turn out to be inadequate predictors of future successful performance on the job. Granted, this rational (but often unreliable) data offers the benefit of sorting a field of candidates down to a manageable number to interview, but once that pool of possibilities is assembled the left-brained/logical part of the process should end.

Getting Personal
Personal interviews allow the principal hiring characteristics--the irrational factors--to be assessed. While the right brained interviewing stage brings the principal credentials based selection criteria into play, there are interpersonal decisions that are made irrationally...and appropriately so.

Classic interview formats permit the hiring parties to determine whether the candidates share the organization's values; demonstrate a communications style compatible with the organization's stakeholders; have sufficient "E.Q."(Emotional Intelligence)and an adequate I.Q. to match the environment's demands.

But there is a danger that accompanies these intuited yardstick filters. The peril lies in the impact that any subtly misleading prejudices you hold may skew your assessment decisions. It is fundamentally sound to guard against both positive biases ("halo effect", "just like us") and negative ones ("not our kind", or here fill in the blanks with all of the foolish discriminations now addressed by legislation, as well as those carried in your own personal "baggage"). Underlying assumptions of the interviewers may be just as far off base as are some of their rational criteria.

Choosing Wisely
While the interview process inevitably carries some element of thinking irrationally, if you are conscious in freeing your judgment from the constraints of your prejudices you will judge well. As a spirited, freely irrational screener you no doubt will identify the spark in a person that suggests that you are likely to advance a successful future relationship, applying your best gifts to reading and relating to others.

On the other hand, if you self-handicap your assessment judgment, whether with irrelevant rational criteria or with intuited prejudices you invariably will fail to judge wisely.

We are accustomed to relying on rational approaches to our decision making. Acquiring or amplifying our native gifts for irrationality serves us well. When we become irrational in selecting leaders we improve our odds of success in choosing leaders.

"To want to tackle everything rationally is very irrational."  Ilyas Kassam