An HR manager, a politician and a business executive walk into a bar to choose the next CEO of Barclays, Archbishop of Canterbury or head of your kids' school... take your pick. The last forty years have seen major changes in the way people are chosen to fill front-line or middle management jobs. We now have job descriptions, person specifications and competencies. Interviews sit alongside ability tests, psychometric profiles, job simulations or '360 feedback'. But how people get selected for jobs at the top of organisations has changed very little. Why? Are we choosing leaders badly, and if so, could we do better. Douglas Board argues 'yes'.
This lecture is based on the author's doctoral research into his experience as a board-level headhunter. Over 18 years he recruited leaders for a diversity of organisations - household-name retailers and NHS trusts, banks and universities, government departments and charities. A way of understanding our skills, our thinking and our acting (and our science) is proposed based on the concept of 'practice' as developed by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930 - 2002). Seeing differently the place of science, politics and intuition in our lives and our society, clarifies why leadership selection is stuck and how it could change. It also offers insights into ourselves.
This lecture comes from the symposium on 'Leading at the Top: Power and Politics'. The transcript and downloadable versions of all the talks and discussions from this symposium are available from the Gresham College website:
Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website. There is currently nearly 1,500 lectures free to access or download from the website.