Not from Here

Its the silly season in football.

Now that the college crown has been settled deck chairs are being reshuffled on the Titatnic as schools rush to fill those final open coaching slots. In the NFL as well teams lurch from one coach to another searching for the right leadership.

We run to anyone.


There is little in common between football and big business but one trait they share is the not-from-here syndrome when it comes to selecting leaders. As in, who's the next leader? Anyone – as long as they're not from here.

Not From Here

Somewhere along the way to selecting leaders in modern organizations we began to default to a rejection of anyone in the current labor pool: we're pre-disposed it seems to ignore promotion from within. Notwithstanding some notable exceptions (Tim Cook anyone?) many public and private firms struggle with the notion of handing the keys over to an insider.

The grass must be greener.

And yet independent analysis shows externally-sourced leaders seldom perform better than internally developed candidates along any metric other than cost.

Ie., they usually cost more.

HR Fail

This is a question with lots of facets but let's be clear: its an HR fail. Whether its Microsoft's struggle to replace Ballmer or your church's inability to change leadership of the stewardship team, this is what HR is supposed to do: build pipeline.

Remember? We find, secure, develop and retain talent.

Historically organizations practiced grooming and with it long-term development of potential leaders. Of course organizations used to practice lots of things that don't make sense today but this is one item we ought to rethink.

When did it become an assumed fact that we could not generate internal talent to take over key leadership positions? If this is accurate how exactly are we in HR adding value?


For radical New Year practices let's try this: let's develop talent. The primary function of HR is to develop human capital for the organization. Let's take this on with some gusto and drop all the ancillary activities and theoretical dalliance that distracts us.

Leadership is experiential not theoretical. People learn by doing. We add value by developing.

The new year beckons with a new view. Let's get serious about developing talent and leave the “not from here” mantra in the waste can of past practices that no longer work.



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