Why Orphans Possess the Propensity for Becoming Great Leaders

(Discovering the Hidden Gems within Progressive Organizations)

Selecting the ‘Chief Executive’ is quite often the most challenging succession initiative for an organization as any complacency/apathy/shortcoming in the respective context can jeopardize its ability to stay relevant and competitive in an unforgiving market.  Generally, this entails exhaustive combing within the available ‘talent pool’ within and outside the organization to decide on a ‘suitable’ option.  However, going outside an organization is often a tacit capitulation of the prevalent Talent Management System in failing to provide a credible line of internal ‘suitable’ candidates for the ‘top job’ consideration.  It also signals the capacity limitations in terms of only catering to lower positions while leveraging the future of the organization on an ‘outsider’ who is entrusted with the task without having any/minimal exposure to the ‘inner workings’ of the respective business entity.

Consequently, the first ‘real’ task for the selected ‘outsider’ is to ‘learn’ about the organization before ‘stamping’ his/her ‘brand of leadership’ on the strategic and operational functions.  Such ‘gambling’ is often prone to failure (https://lnkd.in/ezg38RA3) and the ‘trial and error’ experimentation inevitably leads to lowering an organization’s ability to compete at the ‘pace’ of the competitors with productive Talent Management Systems that efficiently and effectively cater to all levels of the corporate hierarchy.

A critical mistake that is made by the internal ‘talent scouts’ is the failure to focus on polishing the ‘Marginalized Gems’ that are often sidelined due to their ‘rebellious’ views or the inability to garner ‘political support’ within the organization.  These dedicated professionals often struggle to gain a firm footing on the slippery floors of the corporate corridors since they are unwilling to surrender their ‘independent and competent’ views/approaches/solutions to the whims of the ‘Machiavellian’ supervisors.

An associated aspect that has faded in recent years within the labyrinth of the ‘corporate maze’ is the knowledge about the ‘life stories’ of employees.  This has almost vanished from the interview/review process for fear of being construed as ‘too intrusive’ or ‘excessive trampling’ on the ‘privacy domains’ of promising candidates.  However, evading such knowledge often hinders an employer’s ability to ‘truly’ understand the ‘makeup’ of a person being considered for employment/advancement.  Such ‘inquisitiveness’ is necessary for assuring/ensuring the viability of ‘subsequent’ investment needed for grooming them with respect to preparing for leadership positions.

One of the ways in which this can be achieved at the onset of hiring ‘fresh talent’ is to reframe the conventional question asked during an interview ‘Tell me about yourself’ to ‘Tell me your life story’ while being accorded ‘patient listening’ and ‘prudent questioning’ in terms of ‘truly’ understanding the capabilities/capacities of the candidates before hiring those who have the ‘mettle’ to be at the vanguard of organizational success in the future.  These are the same candidates that eventually become the ‘indispensible assets’ for the organization with the ‘necessary competence’ to be the ‘frontline’ successors for the ‘top job’ as and when it is vacated.

An important segment of employees within the workforce possessing riveting ‘life stories’ and requiring a ‘magnifying lens’ in terms of succession consideration for the ‘top job’ are the Orphans.  These ‘battle-hardened’ professionals often ‘sail’ through the organizational ranks without ‘openly’ disclosing the ‘trials and tribulations’/’triumphs and ascendancies’/’regrets and rejoices’ that have enabled them to become value-adding members of the workforce.  History is full of such ‘Gems’ having made outstanding contributions within their spheres of influence.  Some of these are: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Horatio Nelson, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, Nelson Mandela, Yitzhak Rabin, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Babe Ruth, Karl Benz, Wilhelm Maybach, Aristotle Onassis, William Boeing, Levi Strauss, Carlos Slim, Steve Jobs (https://lnkd.in/eDzs6EuV).

So how does an Orphan gain the ‘right mindset and requisite soft skills’ for becoming an illustrious leader?  Let’s explore the following chart in the respective context:

This refers to the state of denial that engulfs an Orphan upon losing his/her parent(s).  It is generally characterized by visible emotional outbursts and strong feelings of helplessness in the face of adversity

This refers to the state of overwhelming regret that is experienced by the Orphan as he/she remembers the life spent with their deceased parent(s).  It is generally characterized by regurgitating thoughts of ‘lost’ opportunities

This refers to the state of bitterness targeted towards those who seem ‘more fortunate’ for having the company/guidance/love of both parents in their lives.  It is generally characterized by a ‘sullen’ disposition and an ‘introvert’ behavior

This refers to the state of accepting the bitter truth of the ‘void’ created in his/her life.  It is generally characterized by realizing the associated challenges and making a ‘personal pact’ for adjusting to the ‘new’ normal

This refers to the state of self-assessing the life-changing impact due to the ‘passing’ of the loved one(s).  It is generally characterized by the prudent exploration of viable solutions to overcome the subsequent challenges

This refers to the state of finalizing solutions that facilitate a value-driven life in the ‘absence’ of the loved one(s).  It is generally characterized by making the necessary changes in all facets of life efficiently and effectively

This refers to the state of surging ahead with renewed purpose in a vibrant manner.  It is generally characterized by strong ‘internal motivation’ to lead a productive life based upon the lessons learnt from the loss of the loved one(s).

The aforementioned ‘formative experiences’ provide the ‘rich ingredients’ for Orphans to formulate the desired professional traits to ‘prove their worth’ frequently in terms of meeting and, quite often, exceeding expectations of their employers.  Examples of such traits include: Charismatic personality with a positive attitude, Robust commitment to excellence, Ability to handle stressful situations, Undaunted by formidable challenges, Keen attention to critical success factors, Healthy regard for team members and supervisors, Penchant for relying on factual data for sound decision-making, intuitive sense of timeliness, Insatiable appetite for learning, Preference of adaptability through agile actions, Situational awareness of competitive forces, High level of emotional intelligence (EQ), Astute planning of robust risk management with special emphasis on emergencies, contingencies and unforeseen situations, Steadfast approach to realizing goals/objectives, Sensitivity to personal health and wellbeing, Ability to weave a clear path to viable solutions in complicated situations, Willingness to lend an ‘empathetic ear’ to peers, Mindfulness of the strengths and weaknesses of the prevalent ecosystem, Progressive approach to selfless engagement, Magnetizing impact on raising workforce motivation levels.

Consequently, organizations are well-advised to seek out such ‘Gems’ within the workforce to assure/ensure that their professional progression is not egregiously hampered by conniving interests and they are judiciously provided the ‘right’ opportunities in a timely fashion to be available on merit for the ‘top job’ consideration.  Will you give them a ‘fair’ chance?

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