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Leaders Ought to Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership by Phillip Van Hooser

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Chapter 11

Commonsense Success

Ground Rule #11
Leaders don’t always need to plow new ground;
Leaders can watch, listen, and learn from the success of others.

Seniority, Experience, or Something Else?

Years ago, while still working as a corporate human resources manager, I was part of an executive team that faced a difficult managerial decision. We were responsible for deciding whether to promote a senior employee—an individual who possessed adequate knowledge and skills—or a promising junior employee who admittedly possessed less institutional knowledge and skills but had tremendous upside potential, as evidenced by her personal desire to learn, grow, and do.

After much deliberation, we opted for the latter. We simply believed the organization and its employees would be better served over time by the junior employee’s leadership. As you might imagine, our decision did not sit well with the rejected employee.

“How can you make such a foolish decision?” he demanded to know.

The selection committee’s chairperson pulled no punches in answering the employee’s question. He spoke truthfully and to the point.

“You actually helped us make our decision by the attitude we’ve all seen you display over the years. You’ve consistently resisted most of the opportunities afforded you to learn, grow, and expand your influence and impact within this organization and industry. You’ve opted instead to put your own comfort and convenience ahead of the needs of those you might one day be charged with ...

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