Why Hiring the Wrong Leader is Way Too Easy

By |2019-06-10T21:57:40+00:00June 3rd, 2019|Culture, Hiring Process, Interviews, Leadership|

We’ve all been there. We have a big gap in the business, and we know it’s critical to find just the right leader to make a meaningful impact QUICKLY. Maybe you’re bleeding revenue or your turnover is through the roof. Maybe you’re the one filling in until a role is filled. Whatever the reason, it’s on the top of your priority list, and the candidate can’t arrive soon enough.

You go through your internal process and find someone you believe to be great. Their resume contains the “must-haves,” the hiring process and references pan out, and it seems like they would be a great leader for your team. A few weeks in, however, you begin to observe behaviors that don’t fit with your company’s culture, the results you were expecting are not evident, and you are still doing the work you were planning to delegate to the new hire. You’re cautious not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater,” but it’s becoming clear that you may have made a mistake with hiring a bad leader. And as the person responsible, it is now your job to correct it.

If this story hits a nerve, never fear, you are not alone. We hear this very same story from small business owners and Fortune 500 leaders alike. Here are three reasons why hiring a bad leader is way too easy, and some helpful suggestions to keep your team from these exhausting, costly pitfalls.

The leadership team is pretty clear on the role.

Your leadership team meets to discuss the role and the hiring manager is only able to attend for the first fifteen minutes of the meeting, the other two individuals are listening and nodding while checking their emails while you’re walking them through the job description you worked on at length. Weeks later, when you have a candidate in the final stages of the interview process, you receive mixed feedback from stakeholders after they’ve conducted the interviews, and there’s no consensus.

Tip: Make time to be certain the key stakeholders are clear on the role, the critical outcomes this individual will need to accomplish and make time to co-create a hiring process that will assess the cultural alignment and competencies for the candidate. As a part of our Y Scouts Search Preparation, we hold a Search Strategy Session for all key stakeholders and facilitate a healthy discussion to gain clarity from all parties on exactly what we are looking for in capabilities, experience, values, and leadership.

The candidate represents herself perfectly for this role.

After your internal recruiter passes you a qualified candidate, every conversation seems to flow seamlessly and naturally. The experiential stories the candidate references are almost exactly what you need in this role. It seems natural and delightful, so you allow her to skim through some of her clear experience gaps, and when she stumbles through some behavior-based questions, you give the benefit of the doubt and make the offer.

Tip: Give the candidates only the information that is critical to convey about the role in initial hiring conversations. Be certain your internal recruiters are acting as your partner, being cautious not to divulge too much information about you as the hiring manager or the critical “must haves” for the role. It’s human nature for candidates to begin to craft answers to “fit” the role he/she is trying to fill. Creating an environment that encourages authenticity is key. At Y Scouts, we use a completely Covert Discovery Process, not disclosing our clients or roles to ensure genuine responses through our Hiring on Purpose process.

A current employee has been great in other roles, so we’re confident he can nail this one, too.

You have a rockstar individual contributor who is a high performer in every sense of the word. So when it comes to filling this key leadership position, he’s the first one you think of as he’s proven to be successful in everything he’s done in your organization. He may be new to this function, and he doesn’t have extensive leadership under his belt, but you feel good about this decision because he’s a known quantity, so you move through the process quickly and offer him the role. Just a few weeks later, you find that he needs much more coaching than you imagined. His confidence is waning, results are starting to slow, and the team is beginning to question the leadership team’s decision.

Why Hiring the Wrong Leader is Way Too Easy

Tip: Create a hiring process and stick to it, regardless of whether the candidates are internal or external. Remember that you are not looking for the best person in the building to fill this role. You are looking for the best in the market. Just because an internal candidate has proven to be a success in one area of the business, does not mean success is imminent in other areas. Prior to considering anyone specifically for the role, create an unbiased hiring plan and measure each step of the process consistently with every candidate.

While these suggestions do not guarantee success in every leadership hire, we know from experience that these core principles create a strong foundation from which to build. And as always, should these steps feel too complicated or time consumptive for your team, we would be more than happy to partner with you.

Y Scouts is a purpose-aligned, performance-proven leadership search and development firm focused on transforming how people and organizations connect to work that matters. When you’re ready to hire a new leader, Contact Y Scouts. If you are looking for your next leadership role within a purpose-driven, performance-focused organization, please join the Y Scouts Leadership Community.


Christine Rogers

Crafting a perfect match between purpose driven organizations and passionate, capable individuals to lead them, is transformative. It not only impacts the individuals they serve, but has a rippling effect that touches families, communities, our economy.