Today's Challenge: How Do You Fill Open Leadership Positions?

So, you have an open leadership position in your organization – congratulations! Every open position is a huge opportunity… if you make a good decision regarding who fills the void. Today’s Challenge: Should I bring in an external leader or promote from within?
The answer: it depends…

  • Do any of your internal candidates possess the skill or experience you need for the spot?
  • If the answer to the first two questions is 'no', do you have time to help an emerging leader grow into the role?
  • Is the role you’re attempting to fill mission critical?
  • Do you have the budget to hire the caliber of talent you want from the outside?

It is this line of questioning that sometimes turns a leader’s attention to internal candidates. The truth is you may be able to make a more cost effective decision with an internal selection. However, be careful not to fall into a rut of defaulting to internal candidates. Over time, you will probably need to select external, experienced leaders in some mission critical roles.
Here’s the caution with external leaders, they need to be really good. Also, additional energy and effort will be required to help them understand your culture. I would suggest overinvesting in the orientation process when bringing in leaders from the outside. He or she will probably not have the luxury of time to understand the cultural nuances. The new leader will need to ramp up quickly. Here are a few ideas to help…
Make expectations crystal clear.
Be sure the new leader understands your values and how they impact the culture.
Identify for the new leader the key influencers across the organization.
Tell new leaders about cultural norms that may not be apparent.
Check in with the new leader often (at least on a weekly basis).
Make learning their chief priority for an agreed upon time.
Give them a heads up on any cultural land mines and how to avoid them.
Personally introduce the new leader whenever possible, sharing your confidence and excitement about their selection.
Encourage the new leader to bring issues and questions to you if they are unsure how to respond. (Obviously, this is not a long-term practice; but in the first year, it could be a lifesaver.)
Which is best: internal or external leaders? It depends – so chose wisely. And then, work diligently to help whoever you select be successful.[GLS_Shield]


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