Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

Judging the Executive Leadership Team-A Proposal

Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

Judging the Executive Leadership Team-A Proposal

Article excerpt


Precise judgment is a necessary quality in all leaders, whether the president of a nation or the president of a company, and it is crucial these leaders use their sound j udgment when evaluating the executive team. The following article proposes a more qualitative model for judging the leadership team. Each team member can be judged based on the suggested four-point scale that consists of valued and non-valued characteristics at each level, along with recommendations for how to proceed. This model could greatly complement quantitative methods of assessment, as it provides a more rounded judgment of the individual to enhance the decision-making process. After all, the currency of leadership is judgment.

Judging the Executive Ladership Team

One of the greatest challenges of the leader of an organization is accurately judging the members of the Executive Leadership Team. Certainly, selecting the right members is a daunting task in itself (Hambrick, 1987). Years ago, in a personal communication to the senior author of this article, the leader of a 1,500-plus person facilitystated, "If they should come down the hall with my pink slip, I could tell you why. It would be because I failed to judge accurately the members of my leadership team." *

The Executive Team

Successful organizations often can be traced to the composition of the leader's executive team. According to one observer (Hawkins, 1998, 2001), organizations will grow until they reach their Executive Leadership Team 's level of incompetence. To ensure continued success, it is understood the leader must select the best team members possible, employing good judgment in the selection process, perhaps with some quantifiable data. Such data should be utilized, of course, as only one of many other considerations. The success of the enterprise, as well as the leader's own success, depend heavily on the makeup of the Executive Leadership Team (Cann & Cangemi, 1971).

Experienced leaders know judgment* of key personnel is not so simple that psychometric testing alone can possibly take into consideration all of the factors that must be included in the assessment/judgment process. The terms judgment and assessment, according to psychologydictionary. org, are essentially the same. However, for purposes of this article, the authors posit assessment comes before judgment and assists the leader in the broader view required in making judgments. How many exceptional individuals might be lost if only quantifiable data were used to determine membership on the Executive Leadership Team? It is the responsibility of the CEO/President/Leader to handle the judgments, employing the wisdom and good judgment (Cooper & Sawaf, 1996) developed through years of preparation and experience. Sometimes, using this wisdom and good judgment might even require trumping the quantifiable data, as well as the input of others!

FDR's Judgment

On April 23, 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) skipped over 34 generals of greater seniority to name General George Marshall his new Army Chief of Staff. This appointment was strictly a judgment call, which the president himself later described as "one of the most significant choices" of his presidency (Hull, 2013).

*Judgment "is to draw conclusions from evidence and evaluate events and people." Psychologydictionaiy. org

Another lesson of leadership judgment and responsibility comes from General George C. Marshall himself. In 1939, FDR, once he decided to promote General Marshall, made him responsible for creating a superior American Fighting Army whose generals commanded infantry, cavalry, and artillery. These generals, who utilized outmoded methods and tactics generated in WWI, zealously guarded their respective turfs, resulting in very little collaboration or cooperation among them. General Marshall's first priority was to eliminate these fiefdoms. To do so, he personally selected a Leadership Team comprised of individuals he judged most capable of adding strength, expertise and good judgment to this new American Fighting Army (Hull, 2013). …

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