I’ve been involved in a CEO search for our local Y over the past month. What a fascinating process! It’s validated a lot of my opinions, and opened my eyes to creating common ground and consensus. And that’s a challenge for a group of diverse people who take the organization’s well-being to heart.
A great search team is made up of diverse opinions. And our team is certainly that. While it can be frustrating, it’s also something like playing a challenging game of Monopoly. You want to move forward in the worst way, you have to be strategic, but you don’t want to sell your soul to win the game, or in this case, get the candidate you like in the seat.
I love noticing how we each hear different things as people talk with us. Our filters are so strong! We sit as a group, listen to the same words, yet hear totally different things and build very different pictures. Our thinking styles, penchants for adventure versus safety, and biases from life experience show themselves in full color and 3-D.
Despite all this, we want the same end result. We want to grow the organization we support as volunteers, and we want to make a good decision on behalf of the organization. And this is where culture, expectations, and leadership come into play.
When you get to this point in a CEO search, all the candidates have excellent skill sets. Now it becomes a matter of alignment. What intrigues me about this, is that if we looked at every job or contract like we were interviewing for a CEO position, perhaps we wouldn’t be so upset when we didn’t get offered every opportunity. We often forget that culture, timing, fit, right place and right time—all affect the work and career steps we take.
In some ways it comes back to Guided Drift. If we over-direct our lives, and push too forcefully towards objectives that are hard and unbendable, we will be often disappointed. It’s when we reduce our expectations, loosen up our tight hold and high needs, that the best things happen.
After all, each of us is the CEO of our own lives and our own careers. It’s our job to direct with a soft hand, to pull out the best in ourselves without pushing ourselves onto others. In the end, the right match is made, whether CEO or next career step, when you match yourself up to the whole experience — challenge and comfort, stretch and ease.
I love the challenge of being on the interview panel. It allows me to feel the tension of making a good decision, to ride the wave of finding common ground, and to be open to match-making and creating a good partnership, since that is where the greatest work is done.
Maybe we should all pay attention to this notion of partnership. Without it we don’t move ahead as fast and far as possible. With it, it feels like anything is possible, if only in the support and confidence having a partner at your side brings. Who and what do you match up to? Do you partner best with? That’s where contribution and true impact lie.