What if we chose leaders differently?

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In most businesses, most of the time, people get “promoted” to lead a group because they’re good at something else. We choose top salespeople as sales managers. The great lathe operators become team leaders.

That often doesn’t work. The people we pick are talented and hard working. But many of them don’t want to be a boss. Others seek to be a boss because it’s the only way to promotion and preferment.

Today people higher up the org chart pick new leaders. What if we reversed that? What if we elected new leaders? It works for democracies. Why not business?

The Roman Catholic Church has a couple of thousand years experience in selecting leaders. They call them priests and they ordain them. Then you’re a priest forever. You can move up to a Monsignor or a Cardinal or even the Pope. This would appeal to those people who think leaders possess some moral power or magic trait that sets them apart.

Most military and public safety organizations combine testing, assessment centers, and review panels to choose people for promotion. It works for them, maybe it would work in business.

And speaking of Armies, one of the most successful in history was the English Army under Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington. Officers in that Army essentially bought their positions.

We could use a lottery. Those who craved promotion could enter. The winner would be picked from among the entrants.

OK, so this is a little tongue-in-cheek. And, yes, I do have trouble staying serious for long stretches.

But think about this. Seriously. How can we do a better job of choosing leaders?

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