When Leaders Lack the Knowledge to Lead (Podcast Episode 66)

Listen to the Podcast Here Here’s the situation: You and I are screening candidates for an important job, and we need to make sure we select the very best person for the position. Let’s make believe that every house in our country is connected to a huge water supply system.  There are thousands of lakes, rivers, and streams that supply water for the system, and millions of homes and businesses that draw on the water system for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and all kinds of industrial purposes. Let’s also pretend that we’re not allowed to store the water; we have to draw it from the spigot as we consume it.  This means it’s critical that our water supply be reliable and virtually uninterruptable.  If the supply were to be interrupted industries will have to shut down and people won’t have anything to drink.  If an outage were to last very long then people will get desperate and some may even die. Because our national water supply is so important to our survival and our way of life, our government has decided it would be wise to put some regulations in place to ensure the system is reliable and secure, and to make sure business transactions for water remain fair and above the board.  This is the job we need to fill: The head of this important government agency. So before we start to screen candidates we need to think about the core competencies and knowledge the applicants for the position need to have: First of all, candidates or this position need to have a firm technical grasp on how the water system works.  Without the requisite technical background they’ll be unable to make wise, informed decisions. The person for this important job needs to have leadership experience because this government agency employs many thousands of people and prior leadership experience will ensure the organization runs smoothly and efficiently. Also, the candidates need to understand the principles of water laws and regulations, because this government agency’s role is to apply and interpret these laws. Finally, the leader of our Federal Water Regulatory Commission needs to be fair and unbiased because the opportunity for abuse of power and influence is great, and the consequences even greater. Guess what – we have our first applicant for the position!  She has a Masters Degree in mathematics and a law degree, and is an attorney.   She has 30 years of experience in a very successful private law practice representing clients in the water business.  Her clients have been mostly wealthy individuals, companies, and politicians with interests in a small but growing part of the water...

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