May 10; When Is No One Better Than Someone?;
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful


Chapter Five: Hiring; 10 May

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 3:23

When Is No One Better Than Someone?


“Just fire him,” was my all-purpose response. The CEO concurred and then complained, “but there’s no one else I can get.” He had Lincoln’s problem.

Lincoln’s top advisors were demanding the removal of McClelland, the Army’s top general. Any body would be better than that current man at the top of the military’s organizational chart.

In the darkest days of the Union, President Lincoln struggled with both the civilian and military leadership on the conduct of the Civil War. General McClelland was reluctant to lead the army and was slow to take fight to the enemy with energy.  Lincoln’s cabinet insisted on action and getting a general—any general to make it happen.

Lincoln agreed. But there was a problem”, the president said, “but not for me. I must have somebody.” The talent pool of the right leadership was thin at the highest levels—an ageless problem—during the war between North and South.

The war lasted from 1861 to 1865 but it wasn’t until 1864 that the leader, Lincoln’s somebody, emerged who would provide the battlefield direction.

The Union strategy, with its superior resources, was direct, constant engagement with the Confederate Army. Ulysses S. Grant had a track record for victories in the west, winning decisively at Vicksburg. Lincoln found his general, “I can’t spare this man–he fights.”

Today’s CEO has the same challenge. Is it better to have someone in a position and get some work done? Or to have the position vacant while a search is conducted? Under what option is the least damage done?

This is why successful senior management deserves significant compensation. Complicated hiring decisions involve dozens of variables with hundreds of counter weights and balances. There are many wrong answers. There is often not even a right answer; just the least worst.

It is simple for the outside consultant to advise, “Off with his head.” But the real management work is finding and emplacing the right talent for the right position. The challenge for senior management is that marginal managers and staff require closer, time-consuming supervision. This is what is de-rided as micro-management by subordinates and amateurs who have never managed.

It may be better to have a slot filled with ‘anyone’ then monitor the performance– the control part of management – to learn if the new hire or promotion or lateral move is delivering. If not, then take action or make another move fast.



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