Sunday, September 30, 2012

Of Meritocracy and Choosing the Right Man for the Job


Based on the volume of readership that has been spawned by my Dutdutan entries I'm sure that they are still awaiting the next installment of my picture blogs (which I must say that there are still a lot to be posted) but after going out for coffee with my wife this afternoon, I chanced upon the Lifestyle Asia Magazine which featured an article about four of the country's top entrepreneurs, namely:  Tony Tan Caktiong (Jollibee), Jaime Zobel de Ayala (Ayala Corporation), Lance Gokongwei (Cebu Pacific), and Martin Lorenzo (Pancake House).   Both Tony Tan Caktiong and Jaime Zobel de Ayala mentioned about MERITOCRACY.  And as I shifted to reading the day's Philippine Star this word again came to my attention as the topic of Carmen Pedrosa's column in "From a Distance".  Is this by happenstance or is there something about this word that I need to write about?  So I start thinking and scribbling my thoughts and here's what I have to say about the matter.

By definition, meritocracy  "is a system of government or other administration wherein appointments and responsibilities are objectively assigned to individuals based upon their "merits", namely intelligence, credentials, and education, determined through evaluations or examinations."  Both Tan Caktiong and Zobel de Ayala subscribe to getting talent when there is nothing to be found in the organization.  This reflects the value of humility in both leaders to realize that much that keeping their companies within the family enterprise, certain expertise needs to be outsourced if they intend to move forward.  

I do not intend to contest this for a fact.  Both have their business portfolios (and bank accounts) to give credence to this.  However, the key to making this as a true instrument for business continuity and growth, the selection process should be attuned to the corporate values and the experience aligned to the company industry.  This is especially true for key positions.  The intelligence factor maybe off the charts, the accomplishments and the prestige of coming from a multi-national company  adorning the curriculum vitae but these do not guarantee an automatic job fit.  Intelligent people do not automatically have the people skills to lead.  Unfortunately, many intelligent people are too intelligent to admit to this fact.  If you give the reigns of leadership to a general who does not know how to lead and influence his troops to action do not expect to win any battles.  

I believe that in order for big companies to repeat the folly of the Roman Empire, all battle fronts should be led by loyal, charismatic and battle hardened generals to keep the ranks on their toes and the enemy at bay.  

Outsourcing key management positions is critical.  The hiring process should be able to spot leaders who have both the wisdom and charisma to move the company forward.  Unfortunately, this is not an exact science and there will be instances that actual performance does not back up the colorful CV.  The next challenge is how to weed out these false leaders and continue the quest for the one who can lead and provide the stability in terms of business continuity.

A leader who do not have the power of influence within his command cannot be expected to hold the fort from the enemy.  

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