“Would you hire an exceptionally talented individual & domain expert who is lacking in people management skills?”

The role of individual contributors is vital, but at CXO level, leadership skills are critical, particularly the people competencies. However, in the current climate where innovation and expertise are survival factors, you would be fortunate to bring on board, people with rare expertise and creativity, even if they are lone rangers, not particularly strong in handling people. So, what is it that you could do?

  1. An extraordinarily talented technologist, a scientist, a finance genius, a marketing wizard are all part of a rare breed, for which you should be willing to live with some discomfort.
  2. Since they are at senior level, they should be given appropriate position with a corporate role, such as – Chief Digital Officer, Head of Enterprise R&D, Research and long- term strategy programme, Head of strategic cost management, etc. depending on the area of expertise.
  3. Consider assigning a small team comprising people hand-picked by this person so that there is some chemistry.
  4. Such a role would still need leadership competencies – influencing, negotiation, communication and interpersonal skills so that this person can work with different stakeholders. It would be worth investing in coaching because the cost will be insignificant compared to the unique value this person can bring to the table. During the evaluation process prior to the hiring decision, try to ascertain the candidates’ appreciation of and commitment to developing these leadership skills.

So, unless some shortcoming is bordering on eccentricity, you can try the above, after all, geniuses come far and few.

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By : Pradeep Sen for ZEUS


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