What if we selected the President of the United States of America using selection best practices? The President is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States of America. This position is the ultimate social sector leader. Research outlined in Impact & Excellence demonstrates that the hidden success factor of any government and nonprofit organization, including the Oval Office, is the extent that a high-performance measurement culture has been established. Organizations with high-performance cultures are significantly more likely to operate more efficiently, achieve greater impacts (changed lives and circumstances), and successfully solve big problems. The research clearly shows that money is not what creates these cultures. The number one factor is the commitment of the organization’s top leader to achieve high-performance.

Can we all agree that we would like to see the Federal Government achieve these outcomes – efficiency, effectiveness, and problem solving — in the next four years? If so, then it would be in our best interest to hire a President who embodies the leadership competencies needed for the development of an Executive Branch built on high-performance principles. Given what we know about high-performing leaders, I have given the behavioral-based structured interview protocol I’d use to hire the next President of the United States of America.

Ability to Cultivate Vision and Purpose

Successful social sector leaders are able to help individuals and teams align their efforts with the mission of the organization. Therefore, the best candidate would be the person who can demonstrate their success. I’d ask the following questions;

  1. What is your vision for the United States of American over the next four years?

Scoring Criteria: The ideal candidate’s response demonstrates the following:

  • A clear understanding of the responsibilities of the President of the United States of American – to protect the American people and uphold the constitution.
  • A clearly stated, extraordinary vision of the future of America that upholds the Constitution and is align with the ideals of the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness for all Americans.
  1. Tell me a time when you helped your team align their efforts with the mission of an organization. What did you do and what was the outcome?

Scoring Criteria: The ideal candidate’s response demonstrates the following:

  • Experience inspiring and attracting others toward a clear and compelling vision.
  • Success achieving a desired vision by modeling the organization’s purpose through words, behaviors, character, and results.
  • Experience working across several interest groups through collaboration and communication that led to these individuals contributing to successfully achieving the vision.
  • Experience cultivating a large scale initiative that moved an organization (or system) towards its ideal vision.
  1. Describe a time when you were trying to achieve a systems change and you faced opposition to this change. What did you do and what was the outcome?

Scoring Criteria: The ideal candidate’s response demonstrates the following:

  • Success at confronting inconsistencies that distracted from the vision in order to achieve the desired vision.

Ability to Build Partnerships and Alliances

High-performance leaders know how to successfully partner and work with others to achieve their big visions and goals. In order to assess the candidate’s skills in this area, I’d ask the following question;

  1. Describe a time you had to create and foster win-win relationships that help individuals, teams, and organizations advance organizational goals.

Scoring Criteria: The ideal candidate’s response demonstrates the following:

  • Success developing partnerships between diverse interest groups that lead to strategic benefits and improves capabilities for both groups.
  • Ability to develop shared goals between diverse interest groups. These goals align with their big vision or mission.
  • Demonstrated experience encouraging collaboration between partners and alliances to resolve issues relevant to either overlapping missions.
  • Demonstrated ability to identify and resolve concerns, fears and changing conditions that threaten the direction of the partnership.

Ability to Direct and Measure Progress

Successful social sector leaders not only establish vision, but they know how to create systems that utilize measures and milestones that support progress on long-term goals. I’d use the following question to assess the candidate’s skill in this area;

  1. Describe how you ensure projects stay on track, within an established budget, and produce desired results in a complex world? Describe a situation that highlights your strategies. What did you do, why did it work, and what was the result?

Scoring Criteria: The ideal candidate’s response demonstrates the following:

  • Demonstrated ability to utilize systems that identify waste and inefficiency and improved processes.
  • Tendency to put measures in place that assess projects. Uses outcomes to make adjustments as needed, ensuring that work efforts and measures are tied to key priorities and operational needs.
  • History of offering feedback and recognition to those who excel. Communicates concerns and recommendations in situations where performance expectations are not being met.
  • Looks for strong returns on investment and high levels of impact as evidence of success

Ability to Enable Constructive Change

High-performance leaders are successfully achieving significant goals because of their ability to enable change. Helping people overcome resistance to change is a critical leadership accomplishment required for any systems change success. Therefore, I’d ask the candidates the following question;

  1. Describe a time you had to redirect and mobilize organizational energy in ways that enhance quantity, quality and effectiveness. What did you do, why did it work, and what was the results?

Scoring Criteria: The ideal candidate’s response demonstrates the following:

  • Ability to foster an environment where staff and stakeholders discuss issues that limit effectiveness and use this feedback to implement change.
  • History of working with, in and around bureaucracy to get things done.
  • Ability to keep staff and stakeholders inspired, focused and fired-up over time.
  • Belief that failure is part of the innovation process. Uses failures to help others learn and applies lessons-learned to achieve greater future success.

Ability to Communicate and Listen

Successful leaders encourage a culture where members express their views and openly discuss differences. To assess if a candidate has this leadership competency, I’d ask the following question;

  1. Describe the culture of the previous organization in which you led. What did you do to create this culture, specifically what is your communication philosophy? Describe a situation that embodies this philosophy.

Scoring Criteria: The ideal candidate’s response demonstrates the following:

  • History of facilitating difficult meetings where there were opposing views, strong emotions, sensitive issues, and the overall ability of the candidate to uncover and discuss issues.
  • Documented experience getting broad involvement. Gathers information from others to generate innovative ideas and process implementation.
  • Proven track record of actively building trust among his/her team.
  • Document a display of diplomacy in expressing view points and effective listening skills.

Selecting a President who embodies these leadership competencies would be significantly more likely to build an administration that would accomplish great things for America compared to one who did not have these traits. Maybe it is unrealistic to think that the major media outlets would pick these interview questions for the next candidate debate or a primetime TV special. It is not, however, unrealistic for government and nonprofit hiring managers across the country to uses this selection criteria the next time they are hiring top leaders and managers. Hiring someone who embodies these characteristics and developing your current leaders to embody these characteristics will increase your organization’s overall effectiveness and impact and allow you to achieve your big vision.

Need assistance with selecting and developing your leaders? Seeking help designing systems and strategies to become a high performing organization? Measurement Resources is here to help! We offer customized workshops and consulting services designed to align your mission, leadership, culture, measures and performance.

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