Agile Forest

Find your path to agility with Renee Troughton

shortcutRecently reading Dan Pink’s Drive, I was mesmerised by a statement of leadership type classifications. I wondered whilst reading it if there was a way to short cut the interview process to get the right type of leader by asking the following question:

We believe here at <Company X> that people fundamentally dislike work and would avoid it if they could. They don’t take responsibility for their actions and badly need direction. We want managers at <Company X> to co-erce, control and direct their staff to put adequate effort to the achievement of the organisations objectives – are you the sort of person that relates to this and can help us with this?

Now what you are actually seeking here is not a positive affirmation. What you are seeking is the look of shock and horror. The right person is the one that says “I’m sorry but this is definitely not the place for me; thank-you for your time,” and walks away. Most people wouldn’t do this, they would dance around the question, but a real leader is the type of person that will stick up for their beliefs and despite the negative impacts to them will stand firm. It takes juts to say no to this sort of question, especially this early in the process of understanding the organisations culture. It takes honesty to speak true to your beliefs. It takes a leader and not a manager to negatively respond to this question.

What do you think? Would this short-cut work if you were trying to hire an Agile leader?

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4 thoughts on “Short cut for hiring the right type of leader?

  1. No. An Agile leader wouldn’t want to work for an organisation that played that sort of game in the interview process.

  2. It also wouldn’t work as an interview question.
    I was asked exactly this question for an IT manager position. A department of 30 lazy, unmotivated developers who did whatever they damn well pleased. They needed a strong leader to set the vision and get people to follow it. Someone that wasn’t afraid to make difficult choices and do whatever was necessary to get the IT department back on track.

    I said yes immediately. Would have been a great challenge. It wasn’t of course about changing all the developers, but the mindset of management of the company.
    Too bad in the end they did choose a ‘real’ hardliner :(

  3. Ian G says:

    I agree with Erwin, the question could have the opposite effect and attract someone who would enjoy the challenge of changing that organisation. Some organisations also work on the premises that interviews should be challenging and hard so that people who lack persistence don’t get through, McKinsey is one organisation like this that springs to mind.

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